Eye on the Y: BYU engineering professor creates design to prevent ‘drowning machine,’ Department of Philosophy, College of Nursing and Sorensen Center host new medical ethics conference

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BYU engineering professor creates a design to prevent the ‘drowning machine’

At least 1,400 people have died nationwide from dam drowning. Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss and his team proposed a design to change the structure of low-head dams to be safer. (Made in Canva by Carly Ludlow)

In 1991, Rollin Hotchkiss issued a challenge to his students to see if they could make low-head dams safer. When no one could respond to his challenge, Hotchkiss took it upon himself to find the solution.

Hotchkiss’ design resembles a staircase structure rather than a flat wall to gradually move the water over the staircase instead of creating a powerful movement. 

 “It eliminates the dangerous currents and protects victims from being severely battered,” Dr. Hotchkiss said. His team and colleagues are currently trying to gain the funding to test the structure on a real dam.

Department of Philosophy, College of Nursing and Sorensen Center host new medical ethics conference

BYU hosted the first-ever conference on medical ethics that focused on discussing challenging issues in medical ethics through the perspective of faith on September 16. (Photo courtesy of David John Arnett)

BYU hosted the first-ever conference on medical ethics that focused on discussing challenging issues in medical ethics through the perspective of faith on September 16. 

The conference spotlighted a number of situations that physicians encountered and offered insights of how to address them.  “Our specialty is asking questions and trying to get at the core principles behind things,” Visiting Assistant Professor Angela Wentz Faulconer said. “By applying some of our tools in the humanities, we can advance the discussion and help people think about what they want to do and what they should do about these issues.”

The conference was structured as a discussion to allow students the opportunity to share wisdom, questions and experiences with medical professionals.

“Doing this conference at BYU allows those of us that are people of faith to bring the light of the gospel to shine on some of these questions,” Faulconer said. 

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