By Eli Blee-Goldman
Worthwhile innovations usually exhibit at least one of these common qualities: improved functionality, decreased cost, expanded capabilities and/or streamlined features that reduce unnecessary clutter.
Think of search engines. Google’s algorithmic approach made it easier to find websites, eliminated the need to manually rank web pages and provided a slick design with only the essential components.
Now think of sinks. The ones on the second floor of the library exceed the criteria for a ‘useful innovation’. The faucets’ ingenuity lies in its combination of water-conservation, auto-sanitation, and efficiency in hand washing. While the subjective inconvenience incurred while using these faucets is frequently lamented on campus, I believe the following schematic will convert even the most jaded sink-user into a believer:
The faucet valves found on the second floor are made by Brass-Craft, a company founded in 1946 in Detroit, MI. The design, patent number 4,077,426, was filed in 1977 as a “Faucet valve and valve cartridge” by Earl K. Karie. The faucets are simpler and easier to manufacture (and thus cost less) than previous models.
The first step in hand washing involves turning on the water. Notice that this is an easy point of germ transfer; touching the faucet handle post-use is essentially touching the toilet.
While the hand-washer is getting soap, the faucets turn off in the absence of pressure. This prevents water from flowing when not in use.
The hand-washer must use their soapy hands to turn the water back on. The valve is thus cleaned for the next user, leaving it germ-free.
Without using electricity (sinks with hand-sensors that must use batteries or another source of power), the sinks design has saved water and cleaned itself.
I think it is reprehensible that the administration has replaced the Brass-Craft faucets in the first-floor library bathrooms and in other areas of the school. Pound-for-pound of solid plastic, they take the cake as the most innovative, useful, and cost-effective technology on campus. Beloit would do well by investing in other similar low-cost, high-impact technologies.