InvenTeam Demonstrates Caver Locator

LEWISBURG (WVDN) – The Greenbrier East High School engineering department and InvenTeam attracted a large crowd for the first public demonstration of their caver-locating device on Thursday, Mar. 3.

The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant initiatives award a limited number of schools $10,000 to conceptualize, design, and build their own invention. The Greenbrier East High School team won one of the eight grand awards with their work on a caver locator.

Thursday’s presentation was the “mid-grant technical review,” giving both MIT and the public a chance to see it and ask questions of individual team members. The event brought a full crowd to the Cecil H. Underwood Youth Center on the fairgrounds.

A packed room watches the presentation.

Greenbrier East High School Principal Ben Routson kicked off the reception with a history lesson.

“I’d like to give you just a little bit of a brief history about Mr. Warfield’s engineering department and some of the things that have been accomplished over the last few years,” said Routson. “They’ve been part of the development and concept of the Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center, which is now being built over here on the fairgrounds, as well as fabricating two prosthetic hands for a young man in Virginia. They’ve also fabricated a prosthetic dog leg for an injured dog. They have been part of an international collaboration in the past, with a school in Brazil for a green space that is actually located and used at that school. They have also, of course, been awarded the Lemelson MIT grant back in 2016, for the creation of a cardboard green brick. This is really an honor for our school and for our program, to be awarded this grant for a second time.”

Routson introduces the team.

A series of devices came out, with several students holding one of a matching set.

“We wanted to make it so that caterers will be able to track their location and send out a distress signal,” explained InvenTeam member Kendrick Boyer. “Inexperienced and experienced cavers will find this invention useful.”

“We have created what we call the digital junction tracker or the DJT,” continued team member Cole Snyder. “What the DJT does is use microcontrollers, which are essentially very small handheld computers, as a communication system underground. They work as a relay – if you think of a relay race, you run a flag back between people in a line. What this is doing is transferring data from one to the next, all the way up to the surface, to help cavers find their way out of the cave, as well as send a distress signal to those back on the surface.”

Cole Snyder explains.

Team member Gabe Coleman then hit the button on one of the prototypes, with each lighting up shortly after.

Gabe Coleman (right with the hat) hits the button, watching for each device to light up red.

Routson also highlighted how proud of each of the students he was.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, as principal of Greenbrier East High School, how proud I am of Mr. Warfield and his students for all the hard work and dedication that they have put in. … I’m very proud of them, and they work very well together.”

Warfield also held up the students.

“I’m speechless,” said Warfield. “You know, the community always turns up for me. This group of kids, some of them started [working on this grant] in the spring of 2020. When COVID hit, we shut it down for a year. Last spring, we picked it back up with some new students and these guys have been great. They are a team by definition, they work well together. When somebody can’t be there, the next man up philosophy happens, and we move forward.”

Teacher Kevin Warfield chokes up a bit before highlighting the team’s successes.

After the demonstration, the crowd gave the students a round of applause, and broke out to a collection of display posters, where the students spoke with the community members one-on-one.

The InvenTeam includes:
– The administrative team, Evan Vaughan and Jake McGilvrary.
– The communications team, Delany Hamrick, Olivia Warfield, and Amber Conley.
– The sustainability team, Ian Hamilton and Evan Vogelsong.
– The research team, Kendra Culyer and Abby Warfield.
– The financial lead, Neveah Wooding.
– The tech team, also known as the coding team, Gabe Coleman, Cole Snyder, Kendra Culyer, and Abby Warfield.
– The fabrication team, Sam Totten, Cam Little, Nate Smith, Gabe Dowdy, and Ian Morrison.

The InvenTeam can be found on Instagram at gehs_inventeam, Facebook at 2022 GEHS InvenTeam, Twitter at EastEngineering, and TikTok at gehsinventeam.

The team will be presenting the device at Eureka Fest in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 13 through June 17. Those looking for help can at

To see more of the InvenTeam’s process, take a look at these previous West Virginia Daily News stories:

– “GEHS Engineers Win MIT Grant with Caver Mapping Idea” at

– “Senate, WV BoE Celebrate GEHS InvenTeam Work, Caving Device” at

– “GEHS Improvement Council Celebrates Long List Of ‘Good Things’” at


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