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University of Iowa News Release

July 9, 2003

(Click on photos for high resolution images: Top--Katelyn Eubank puts her Easy Door Assist invention to work. The invention was designed to help her grandfather wheel her grandmother through doors. Middle--Common paint rollers are the key component of Katelyn Eubank Easy Door Assist. Bottom--Katelyn Eubank uses a display to detail how her invention, the Easy Door Assist, works at the Invent Iowa competition held earlier this year.)

Eubank's Invention Keeps Getting The Job Done

During visits to her grandparents, Katelyn Eubank always knew her job -- to help her grandfather as he wheeled her grandmother through doors by holding them open.

Katelyn takes that job so seriously that she has invented a way to do it even when she isn't there. Now maybe her Easy Door Assist invention will open some doors for her. The invention won a $500 scholarship at the Invent Iowa competition held in April at Iowa State University.

The University of Iowa and ISU colleges of engineering sponsored two such scholarships. Matthew Christiansen of Scranton was the other winner. The two inventors will receive the scholarships when they enroll in the colleges of engineering at either the UI or ISU.

Katelyn, 12, is the daughter of Randy and Cathy Eubank of Indianola and the granddaughter of Richard and Patricia Albright of Fort Dodge. She'll be a seventh grader next fall at Indianola Middle School.

The Invent Iowa Competition is sponsored by The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development in the UI College of Education and by the UI and ISU colleges of engineering.

"Inventing and the invention process involves problem finding, reading, writing, researching, building, and speaking," according to Clar Baldus, Ph.D., Invent Iowa coordinator. "Teaching the invention process is a fun and creative way to integrate math, science, English, social studies and kinesthetic experiences in an unique way that can motivate at times even the most reluctant students."

Paint rollers are the most important components of Katelyn's invention. One roller is attached to each wheel. Three-inch rollers are attached to the smaller wheels in front. Common-sized rollers are attached to the larger wheels in the back.

Using the rollers actually helped Katelyn solve two problems. The rollers hold the door open, and they don't leave marks or scratches on the door or doorframe while rolling through.

"I spent about two hours making the actual invention," Katelyn said. "But then the presentation, including the book, took me three weeks to finish."

The project also provided a lesson in self-discipline. Katelyn said sometimes it was hard to make herself give up watching a TV show to finish the project.

"She claims she's a procrastinator, but she really did a great job of staying on task," Katelyn's mother, Cathy, said.

Katelyn's research involved looking on the Internet and other sources. There were other devices out there with similar purposes but her execution was different enough to make trying the project worthwhile.

"Every year at the state convention I carefully study the finalists," said Barry Butler, the UI College of Engineering dean, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and one of this year's judges at Invent Iowa. "I am always amazed at the level of creativity, hard work and research that goes into the inventions.

"Our culture, educational system and laws on ownership of intellectual property combine to provide an environment where people are encouraged to use their imagination to invent," he added. "Young people try to solve problems with fewer restrictions on their solutions. This type of thinking is the root of all good inventions.

"I was very surprised when I won," Katelyn said. "I didn't even know there was a scholarship for that. My parents and I didn't have clue that this was a state-wide contest."

Katelyn hopes there are more inventions in her future. She's already starting to think of ideas for the next Invent Iowa competition.

"I'll probably do something else for a living, but I'd like to keep inventing as a kind of extracurricular activity," she said.

Baldus is also looking forward to next year's program. She admits to being surprised each year at the projects she sees.

"Part of the reason for that is people think there's nothing left to invent," she said. "At the beginning of the process even the young inventors will think that. What surprises me is the uniqueness and elegant simplicity of some of the ideas."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Mendenhall, writer, 319-384-0019, Program: Clar Baldus, 319-335-6148,