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Faith graduate helps design wearable, virus-destroying device

Martin Mintchev, Layton Pratt, Ryan Robertson

Howard Payne University engineering professor Dr. Martin Mintchev (left) examines the AuroraGuard device created by students Layton Pratt of Spicewood (center) and Ryan Robertson of Euless. Courtesy photo

A 2021 Faith Academy of Marble Falls graduate has joined the fight against potentially deadly airborne enemies. Howard Payne University student Layton Pratt of Spicewood, along with project partner Ryan Robertson of Euless, designed a device that uses Far UVC light to destroy harmful microorganisms.

Their project got them an invitation to the third International Conference on Electrical, Computer, Communications and Mechatronics Engineering in July in the Canary Islands.

Pratt and Robertson will present their paper, “Wearable Far UVC Technology for Continuous Dynamic Personal Protection on Demand,” detailing their AuroraGuard project.

“AuroraGuard is a wearable vest which uses adjustable elastic straps that allow for a comfortable and adjustable one-size-fits-all for any user …” the paper states. “These straps are attached to a base plate that serves as a mounting point for the AuroraGuard product.”

Dr. Martin Mintchev, HPU’s professor of engineering and chair of the engineering department, believes the technology could be groundbreaking for public health.

“This is a major achievement for two of our excellent undergraduate students,” he said in a media release announcing the accomplishment. “Their participation in this major IEEE international conference is yet another attestation of the high quality of our engineering programs. The students will present to the world the first fully functional prototype of a wearable Far UVC garment, which can potentially become a major weapon in our continuous fight against airborne bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.”

Device design efforts took over two years and were part of project-based design courses for engineering science.

“The project-based design classes of the engineering science program at Howard Payne have allowed me to learn and innovate further than I had initially imagined as an incoming freshman,” Pratt said in the media release. “I have learned valuable skills and have been presented with opportunities many might never see. There was a lot of extra work, but with the help of Dr. Mintchev, Ryan Robertson and Howard Payne’s resources, we have been able to create something new that the world has never seen before. For this, I will be forever grateful.”

The IEEE conference will bring together industry professionals, academics, and engineers from related institutions to exchange ideas on the latest innovations in engineering. It will feature a comprehensive technical program with learning sessions about the newest technologies and applications.