Check out the description of a real world situation below, shared by the American Society of Engineering Education’s publication “Prism” October 2020 issue. What would you design to help this situation? Would you improve the current technologies or invent a whole new one?

“The wildfires that devastated California, Oregon, and Washington filled the September skies with thick, toxic smoke, turning Portland into the world’s most polluted city for several days and filming over the East Coast sun with a fog-like haze. Worried about their local air quality, residents snapped up Wi-Fi-enabled pollution monitors sold by PurpleAir, a Utah tech company. While the US Environmental Protection Agency regularly provides air-quality updates in cities, its monitors are often many miles away from where people live. PurpleAir’s laser-based sensors track fewer pollutants and lack the accuracy of the EPA’s monitors, but they offer hyper-localized readings and more frequent updates. Data from some 9,000 PurpleAir sensors worldwide also feed into an interactive pollution map. A PurpleAir user group on Facebook already has more than 1,200 members, many of them ‘self-described computer nerds’ who discuss how to solder extra wires to the monitor, upgrade the circuit board, and connect the sensors to smart-home devices. The company welcomes and encourages such hobbyist hacking. However, most PurpleAir users are not techies who want to tinker but residents affected by wildfires seeking a clearer idea of how much smoke and particulate matter they might inhale – so they can plan outdoor activities accordingly.”

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