George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Putting Ideas Into Action: Mechanical Engineering Student Obtains Provisional Patent

August 7, 2017   /   by Martha Bushong

Marquise Keith types on his laptop at a bus stop on Mason campus

Volgenau mechanical engineering major, Marqus Keith, tries out a prototype of his invention at a bus stop on campus.

Marqus Keith doesn't like to sit still when he works. 
The junior mechanical engineering major said, "I'm the kind of person who thinks best when I'm moving around. One day when I was walking around wearing my backpack, I thought, what if I could pull a desk out of my backpack and keep moving while I work?"
Keith's inspiration came from the type of desks used in lecture halls on college campuses—the type that pull up and over the arm of the chair and rest above a student's lap.
He began developing his invention during spring of his sophomore year and continued developing and testing it for the next year and a half working in Mason's machine shop every Wednesday night, on Friday's, and weekends. 
Keith constructed his first prototype out of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) piping, but later he realized this material was too fragile. Now the invention uses aluminum for telescoping bars that support the plywood work surface. Using one hand and without taking off the backpack, users can unzip the backpack's side zipper and pivot the working surface into place by extending the telescopic arms.
"All of this pulls out of the backpack you can wear it while walking, standing at a bus stop or waiting in a busy airport lounge," said Keith.
Keith said he used a 3-D Computer Assisted Design package, and printed 3-D models, to perform the initial engineering analysis. Mechanical Engineering Department Chair, Oscar Barton, Jr., considers what Keith has accomplished to date as quite impressive but there is more to do. 
"Mr. Keith will have to rely upon his knowledge of engineering mechanics to analyze his design.  He might consider engaging the Statics (ME 211) and Solid Mechanics (ME 212) students to perform some additional analysis," said Barton.  "This would give him additional information to work with and give the students the chance to test a product for one of their peers."
"I've been working on the design portion for a year and a half, I love the design, but it is time to hand it off and see if someone can polish it up," said Keith "Right now I am looking for a company to refine the prototype design, make it sleeker.
"I like building, creating, and finding solutions to problems," he said. "My next invention will have more social relevance."