(Photo by Erica Sherman for the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office)
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wants students to use their design skills to keep Brooklyn safe. Yesterday, he challenged local colleges and universities to come up with proposals for smarter guns — a gun, for example, that could only be operated by one specific person.
“As a former police officer, I know from personal experience the deadly consequences of illegal guns on the streets of New York City,” he said in a statement. “Engaging young people on this important issue of ending senseless gun violence — an issue that has deeply impacted them — is a smart way to reach the solutions needed to save lives.”
Adams announced the Smart Gun Design Competition yesterday at Borough Hall. The competition is being held in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and the Smart Tech Challenge Foundation, a San Francisco org that has run similar competitions.
Teams can enter the competition from September 1 to January 1 and they must submit their final designs by June 1, 2017. Schools can enter as many teams as they wish, and the teams can include members from the general public, but the team leader must be affiliated with the school and at least one member must be a graduate student or professor.
The winning team’s school will receive $1 million. Additionally, the top five ideas will receive $10,000 in funding for further development and evaluation through the Borough President’s office and the NYPD.
The focus on smart guns is a practical one. While crime rates in Brooklyn have declined over the past decade, illegal guns and accidental shooting remain a scourge, according to Adams. Smart-gun technology could address that problem. In addition, smart guns, though controversial among some gun-rights supporters, are still less contentious than other gun-control measures. The National Rifle Association, for its part, says it’s not opposed to them.
Two Brooklyn schools have already signed up for the challenge: City Tech and NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Tandon’s vice-dean for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, Kurt Becker, said faculty members may have their own proposals and recruit students to join their teams.
“This gets to the core of the mission of the engineering school,” he told Technical.ly. “Our slogan is ‘Technology in service to society.’ This is a big societal problem, like climate change or public health.”
The challenge, he said, is reflective of how engineering curriculum has changed over the last two decades.
“We’re no longer training students to be a mechanical engineer or an electrical engineer for life,” he said. “We give them the necessary disciplinary skills, yes, but we also teach them to be aware of how their skills can actually be aligned with the skills of other engineers, so that they can jointly make a much bigger impact to address complex societal problems.”-30-
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