By Rebecca Ellis
The Miami Herald
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Brizeyda Constantiny is one of thousands whose entrepreneurial spirit has been kindled by South Florida’s community colleges, which are increasingly providing residents an “in” to a tech world dominated by white, usually wealthy, males. Her “Baby Still on Board” invention could one day save lives.
The Miami Herald
Growing up, Brizeyda Constantiny wouldn’t touch an instruction manual.
She preferred to fix burned-out televisions and cassette players by touch, determining for herself which wires went where.
Constantiny wanted to invent. But her parents, who migrated from Nicaragua in 1979, depended on their daughter for a steady income. The stop-and-start salary of an aspiring entrepreneur was not going to cut it. Constantiny eventually went to school for supervision in management.
Still, after hours, Constantiny kept sketching prototypes and watching “Shark Tank.”
In her home in Kendall, she says, “they see me like a crazy woman.”
“When there’s a problem, my head starts pumping.”
In 2009, Constantiny turned on the news and saw a problem all too familiar to South Florida. A baby had died of heat stroke after the mother left the baby in the car on a grueling summer day. Only this time, the face on her screen was a familiar one — her dog’s vet.
It didn’t make sense that the same responsible veterinarian who had cared for her ailing terrier could have forgotten a baby in the backseat.
She feared “it could happen to anyone,” just like car crashes and fender benders. So why, she wondered, were cars programmed to alert drivers when they veer and forget their key, but not when a 6-month-old remains buckled in the backseat of a parked car?
She sketched a prototype — a Volkswagen Beetle with a boxy weight sensor embedded in each seat. If the driver turned off the engine while a child remained in the back, the box would screech, “Baby still on board.”