Former engineering technology students make music magic with laser harp

05, Nov, 2020

EDMONTON, Nov. 5, 2020 – A global pandemic didn’t succeed in muting the efforts of a team of former SAIT electronic engineering technology students from producing an award-winning technology project, the laser harp. The team of Kathryn Talabucon, Jahziel Ortega and Rohnin Menezes recently received third prize in a national technology competition, the Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC) 2020 Technology Report Contest.

Their project was finished last spring just as the pandemic had much of the province of Alberta in lockdown.

Both Talabucon and Ortega are members of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET). ASET is one of the original founders of TAC - now the singular national accreditation body for engineering technology and applied science educational programs offered at colleges and polytechnics across the country.

The team’s laser harp is a digital version of a regular harp but has lasers instead of strings. It can generate sound electronically when the laser light beams are blocked. This gives the instrument a sound similar to an electric guitar. To play the instrument, you simply stop the laser beam from reaching the other side of it. An LCD read-out tells you what note you are playing.

The laser harp boasts a quartet of other benefits. Unlike a regular harp, it’s low-maintenance because it is electronic, relieving players of the need to deal with rusty or broken strings. It also enables them to make a recording of what they are playing, and to change the octave and control the volume of the sound.

Due to COVID-19 and SAIT’s subsequent closure, the team was able to submit the final technology report but was unable to complete the project past the late prototyping stage. The team faced additional challenges in terms of communication since everything had to be done online, and they couldn’t assist each other during the programming part of the project.

“Although we were only able to reach the prototyping stage, we were still able to make an impact in our college careers by receiving this national honour,” said Talabucon. “Even through a challenging time, we were able to finish the program with a project to be proud of.”

“I expect that the SAIT team’s recognition by TAC for their innovation of a laser harp will strike a chord with music fans and technology enthusiasts alike,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “It’s a noteworthy confirmation that well-educated engineering technology students can achieve great things even in the midst of a world health crisis.”

About the prize-winning team

Kathryn Talabucon, technologist-in-training (TT)
Talabucon always had an interest in pursuing an engineering-related career, due in part to the fact that it had been a dream of her dad’s and she wanted to fulfil it. When she learned about SAIT’s electronic engineering technology program, she knew it was the right path for her. Not long after graduation, she landed a position as an electronic technician for a Calgary-based medical technology firm.

Jahziel Ortega, student ASET member
When Jahziel Ortega was younger and saw her dad building his PC, she became inspired. She saw all the little circuits and began to wonder what each component did and how it all worked together. When she was researching post-secondary institutions that offered a program specifically geared towards electronics, she found SAIT and the rest is history. She is planning to return to school to expand her knowledge of avionics.

Rohnin Menezes
Rohnin Menezes entered SAIT’s electronic engineering technology program because of his childhood passion for circuit design and desire to create devices that solve problems. He is currently learning new skills in 3D design and visual effects.

About ASET

ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.

Media Contact:
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET

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