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High school seniors working to patent pull-down saferooms

OKLAHOMA CITY – After last year’s devastating tornadoes, building saferooms has been a priority for many Oklahomans.

Three pre-engineering students at Francis Tuttle think they have found the most economical way to build a saferoom.

“You mount it on the wall. You could retro fit it in the school,” Michael Nilson, Francis Tuttle pre-engineering senior said. “You don’t have to build new buildings in the school. They’re in every classroom.”

When these three high school seniors at Francis Tuttle were given their capstone project to solve a problem, they knew this was what they needed to do.

“When we saw the devastation at Plaza Towers last year with the May 20 tornado we knew we had to do something so it made the decision pretty clear,” Francis Tuttle Senior Ryan Bernardy said.

Hundreds of hours of work and $3,500 later, a saferoom made out of steel was designed to come down from the wall and latch together.

“Because classrooms have a very limited space,” Michael Nilson, Francis Tuttle said. “Very valuable space. This is just completely against the wall. Saves so much space.”

The Francis Tuttle students believe it will create enough shelter for each classroom as well as give a safe haven in the event of a school shooting.

“It does have a certain level of bullet resistance so if there is an active shooter in school all of the other teachers can get there students in,” Bernarndy said.

It hasn’t been through a tornado yet, but they are planning to take the prototype to a storm testing facility.

There is already a patent pending giving these seniors a career advantage after graduation as they plan to market their shelter.

The 2014 Engineering Showcase will be held the April 24, from 6 – 9 p.m. and is open to the public at Francis Tuttle on North Portland.

NASA engineers will be on hand to see three different prototypes proposed to the students.