“The last time I caught a mouse was back in Ethiopia as a child,” smiled Feleke Takele, 22, as he adjusted a component in the complex electronic mousetrap prototype he created. “This is different,” he added. For this senior student in Boys Town Jerusalem’s College of Applied Engineering, “different” could well describe the entire course his life has taken over the past seven years since he left Gundar, Ethiopia for Israel.
“It hasn’t been easy,” he noted. The challenges facing his parents and four siblings were daunting as they moved to several cities before settling in Rishon LeZion. “My parents are older now, and neither of them are working,” Feleke explained. After his own two-year struggle to learn Hebrew, Feleke lived and studied in a youth village in central Israel.
At age twenty, he graduated high school with a major in electronics and the impressive accomplishment of being accepted to the Israeli Air Force’s prestigious “Shachak” program at Boys Town’s College of Applied Engineering. This two-year academic program trains top-level soldiers for IAF technical support teams in the development, construction and maintenance of aircraft and anti-missile systems. Just two weeks after their upcoming graduation, Feleke and his Boys Town classmates will enlist in the Air Force for a nearly five-year stint.
Next week, Feleke will present his senior project to Ministry of Education examiners. The project, a precision mousetrap system which automatically signals the precise location and time a rodent is trapped, is intended for massive facilities such as malls or factories. Yehudah Dahan, Feleke’s advisor at the Boys Town College, was inspired to dream up the invention while visiting a giant mall in California. “I happened to see the manager accompanying the maintenance team as they searched for which of the many mousetraps they’d set had made a catch. The manager explained that much effort goes into the daily, lengthy rounds of checking the traps. I assured him that an electronic solution could be devised to provide this information instantly. Only crazy Israelis would think about this, I guess, but he told me to let him know if I succeed.”
Under the tutelage of advisor Dahan, Feleke designed and programmed a prototype for the system controlled by an embedded microcontroller (MCU), a tiny computer on a single integrated circuit. Once the mouse enters the trap, it triggers a switch which transmits a coded signal to the MCU receiver. Instantly the MCU then displays data on a LED screen in the central control room describing the exact location of the particular trap and other details, expediting quick and accurate disposal by the mall or factory team.
Dahan is looking forward to demonstrating the prototype on his next trip to the California mall. For his part, Feleke Takele is looking forward to now putting his ingenuity and electronics studies to work for the Israeli Air Force. “Afterwards I hope to complete my BS studies in engineering,” he says. “I’m grateful for the outstanding start I’ve gotten at Boys Town.”