Difference Maker: Jacob Swiezy

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Junior Jacob Swiezy. JAYMEE STOUT / PHOTO

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Junior Jacob Swiezy fixed a sign board that had not worked for over 10 years. Acumen sat down with him to talk about the process it took to build it, as well as its effect.

FIXING IT UP: Junior Jacob Swiezy poses in front of the sign board. Swiezy said that TechHOUNDS adviser George Giltner had been giving the board to students for around a decade, but no one could make it work before Swiezy. JAYMEE STOUT / PHOTO
FIXING IT UP: Junior Jacob Swiezy poses in front of the sign board. Swiezy said that TechHOUNDS adviser George Giltner had been giving the board to students for around a decade, but no one could make it work before Swiezy. JAYMEE STOUT / PHOTO

 So, what exactly is it?

(TechHOUNDS adviser George) Giltner had a sign board that had somewhere around 2500 LEDs, an array of 2500 LEDs on it. Basically, I gutted the control board for it and made my own. Now, if you walk by Mr. Giltner’s room in senior hallway, you can see (it).

How did you come up with the idea?

I’m in Giltner’s independent study class, so basically what I do in there is come up with electrical projects for me to pursue. Earlier in the year I asked him about a project I wanted to do and he told me (that) before he would let me do that project, “I got this huge sign board on top of one of my cabinets,” and I said, “What are you talking about?” and he said, “I’ve given it to just about every person on TechHOUNDS before you for the last 10 years, but if you can get that working, I’ll let you do this project. So I took it down and I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll look at it,” so I took it apart and within about two weeks I had something working.

Who has it helped?

First of all, we cleaned something off Mr. Giltner’s cabinet, which is a huge accomplishment. Second of all, (it’s) something that has spread the word about (many events).

What was the process that went into it?

When I started, Giltner gave it to me and the first part was taking it apart and reverse-engineering it, figuring out how it worked. So it was made it the 1980s, so by my standards it’s quite old, so a lot of the electronics are outdated, so once I got a general sense of how it worked, I put together my own (plan) and told Mr. Giltner the parts I needed. We ordered them, (fixed) up the board, and then from there it was just some programming and a few days of debugging and it was ready.

Click here to see the full-size graphic.
Click here to see the full-size graphic.

Have you noticed it making an impact on others?

“I thought I was the only one that actually looked at it, but one day I tried to make a change. I tried to make it say something, and it came out as a bunch of gibberish. I had about five people come up to me that day and say, “Hey, your board’s wrong, I don’t know what it’s saying,” so people do go by it and see what’s going on, so that’s pretty cool.

 

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