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From roommates to innovation partners: Lewis & Clark's Z-Tracker gets it done


Team Z-Tracker includes Nick Lombardi and Shvetank Prakash

What happens when roommates are similarly driven by innovative ideas? In the case of Nick Lombardi and Shvetank Prakash, they became partners for an InventOR finalist team from Lewis & Clark College.


The Z-Tracker team is serious about safety for the firefighters who are risking their lives to save others. With an innovative technology that can track a firefighter's location in real time, Z-Tracker aims to roll out its invention at fire stations across the country.


Read on to find out more about three-dimensional tracking and how it came be a game changer for fire chiefs everywhere.

1. What is your invention?

Z-Tracker is a device that tracks the exact location of firefighters in a building. It will do real-time three dimensional tracking (i.e. latitude, longitude, and altitude) to determine the exact location of every firefighter. This will act as both a safety device for fallen firefighters and as a strategic tool for fire chiefs as it will let them know where all of their crew members are located within a building.

2. Where did you get the inspiration for your invention idea?


The inspiration for Z-Tracker came from co-founder Nick Lombardi’s father who was a San Francisco firefighter for over twenty years.

3. As you prepare to pitch your invention to judges, what are you most excited about sharing?

We are most excited about sharing the progress that we have made with our prototype and technology.

4. Who are your invention heroes?

Alan Turing and Henry Ford

5. Tell us about your team. How did you connect with one another and how do you work together?


We are college roommates and basketball teammates with similar drives and strong work ethics. Due to these similarities, we respected each other greatly from the start and figured we could combine our backgrounds to team up and solve this problem. This mutual respect along with our great chemistry from being roommates and teammates for the past two years allows us to work well together. Our team usually divides the work: Nick handles more of the business side duties while Shvetank works on the technological aspects of the product.

6. What is the most important thing you want the judges to understand about your invention — what will set you apart from the competition?


The most important thing we would like the judges to understand about our invention that sets us apart from our competition is our tracking of the z coordinate. Given a x-y-z coordinate plane (analogous to latitude, longitude, and altitude), the z coordinate is the one that determines the height. Currently, the best the other trackers on the market do is track the x and y coordinates, which only allows for single story tracking. For example, if a firefighter were on the fifth story of a building or the twentieth story, the coordinates of their location would be the same. However, our product is also tracking the z coordinate which allows us to determine which level of the building a firefighter is on! This new capability is significant and has a lot of potential to save lives.


See Z-Tracker and 21 other hot new prototypes at the InventOR Finals on June 28 at the PSU Viking Pavilion!

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