Photographic Memory Should Serve Future Elevator Engineer Well

Listing Fujitec, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric among his favorite elevator brands, 12-year-old Aaryan Sachin Kashyap of Bengaluru, India, has a photographic memory, especially when it comes to vertical-transportation equipment, according to The Times of India. He remembers elevator specifications from more than 5,000 sites he’s visited, recalling the details within 5 seconds, according to the source. Aaryn’s parents noticed his fascination with elevators when he was only 2 1/2, and have supported his love for the equipment since. Shimoga and Smitha Sachin have documented nearly 1,100 elevators around the world that Aaryan remembers — including 654 in Bengaluru alone! Whenever he’s at a mall, Aaryan says he doesn’t think about shopping — rather, it’s all about elevators. “I love their buttons, their cleanliness and the way they go up and down,” he says. Aaryan already holds a world record for correctly memorizing nearly 100 volumes of Indian children’s books, and has a newfound passion for cooking. However, he says he wants to be an elevator engineer when he grows up, and his passion for detail should certainly serve him well there!

The “Mayor of City Hall”

Ruth Thomas, at the controls in 1970; contributed photo via Chattanooga Times Free Press

The profession of elevator operator is quickly fading from the public consciousness, but there was a time when you couldn’t ride an elevator without having someone at the controls. These men and women often became ambassadors for their buildings, offering advice or a sympathetic ear, or maybe just exchanging friendly banter.  One such “diplomat,” notes the Chattanooga Times Free Press, was Ruth Thomas, whose 44 years operating an elevator at the seat of municipal government in the Tennessee city earned her the title “Mayor of City Hall.” From 1943 to 1987, Thomas was witness to the comings and goings of all manner of VIPs: politicians, business executives, celebrities and more. Such was the respect she earned that she was even asked to stand in for the city’s fire and police commissioner during a dinner honoring a local coach. There were city officials who went so far as to claim — and, not entirely jokingly — that Thomas was the one who actually “ran” city hall.

One of the old building’s elevators was replaced with an automatic, push-button model in 1966, but the city waited until Thomas retired in 1987 to replace “Old Creaky,” the car she ran for all those years. She was afforded the honor of taking the first official ride in the new lift. You’d have to say she went out on top.

Escalator Invention in the Running for LEGO League Championship

A recent article from Louisville, Kentucky’s WAVE 3 News is about a sharp team of fourth- through sixth-grade students in a local robotics program who aim to make escalators more accessible to those who can’t see well. The Good Vibrations invention uses a transducer to produce vibrations on escalator steps so riders can feel where they are.

Portland Christian School’s first LEGO League team “is causing a stir in the robotics world,” the source says. 11-year-old programmer Lydia Kratt inspired her five fellow members to help those like a friend of hers with disabilities overcome fears of escalators. They’re in the process of patenting the device for such public places as churches, airports and malls. They ranked third of 49 teams across Kentucky, earning an invitation to the national competitions. They also won first place for a LEGO League Global Innovation award, which recognizes the best project ideas most likely to be implemented.

The sight impaired traditionally use elevators for vertical transportation, where Braille is common. Is it a great idea for them to use escalators, too? Check out the video included in the link above to see how the device works and what the inventors have to say about it.