Students from the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science are helping to turn an invention from a local sixth grader into reality.

Delaney Dixon, a local sixth grader, and her father, Chris Dixon, have designed a “Tick Stik” to help people find ticks on their bodies without additional assistance. After designing the product, the Dixons sought help from Watson College students to help finalize the design and develop the device. The students, along with the Dixons, presented the device at the Watson College Fabrication Lab on Friday, Feb. 11.

Dixon was motivated by her own experiences with Lyme disease in 2017, a disease transmitted to humans via the bite of a black-legged tick. According to a press release by Watson College, Delaney faced numerous symptoms as a result of the disease — as well as side-effects of her prescribed medication — including high fevers, rashes and temporary dairy and gluten allergies.

“She is healthy now and wants to prevent others from going through the same experience,” the press release reads.

The invention concept consists of a portable, flexible stick with a camera on the end that connects to the user’s smartphone, so the user can look for ticks in hard-to-see spots. The “Tick Stik” takes hold of and removes ticks, and can be used by one person alone, without another’s assistance. The device is designed for participants in various outdoor activities, including hikers and fishermen.

Three Watson College students have undertaken developing the design as part of their senior project, overseen by Peter Huang, associate professor and undergraduate director of mechanical engineering. Justin Adamczak, one of the students undertaking the project and a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said the team was able to design a 3D computerized model last semester. The team has recently ordered the parts necessary to assemble the product, and hopes to complete it by the end of the semester.

Adamczak said the “Tick Stik” was one of his top choices for his senior project due to its uniqueness, and because it enables individuals to feel safe from ticks and diseases such as Lyme disease.

“I am very excited to continue working on this device and I can’t wait to get a working prototype,” Adamczak said. “Once we have all the materials and assemble it, we can then move on to finessing the product to be easier and more comfortable to use. We have all had gross run-ins with ticks, even if we don’t suffer from an illness afterward, it is still very bothersome and gross. In the future, this product will lessen these negative experiences.”

Salvatore Mezzatesta and Jung Wok Oh, both seniors majoring in mechanical engineering, are also working on the project.

“Yes, we did start because we ‘had’ to do it, but we are all passionate and working together to get a quality result,” Oh said. “As of right now, everything is going well and we are all excited to show our product to the world.”

The team, along with Dixon and her father, presented a prototype at the Fabrication Lab on Friday, Feb. 11, where they explained the product and how it came to be.

“I really enjoyed presenting our design to the public,” Adamczak said. “We hope the device will be simple enough to be usable by younger kids, so it’s an important step for us to know how the public views the device and understands how it works in simple terms.”

Madison Dutton, a sophomore majoring in political science, said she had been bitten by a tick twice and that the “Tick Stik” sounded useful for someone to use when bitten.

“If the device is successfully able to safely and fully remove a tick regardless of the ability of the person using it, then I believe it would be useful in situations where a person was alone and unable to access health care in a timely manner,” Dutton said.