Fleming Mechatronics students team up with local entrepreneur to design smart wine racks

Fleming Mechatronics students with local entrepreneur Glenn Verkindt (middle)

Peterborough ON – (July 29, 2021) – The search for computer-aided design support, electronics and mechanical engineering to help design a smart wine rack led local entrepreneur Glenn Verkindt to team up with Fleming Mechatronics students Himil Shankar and Jeet Patel. 

The idea was to create a system to accommodate any space, displaying wine bottles with integrated lighting. 

Fleming’s Mechatronics program allows students to participate in applied projects. This gives students a chance to interact and work with industry partners to build their collaboration and communication skills and gain real-world experience. 

When Shankar’s professor presented the opportunity to work with a successful entrepreneur, he was excited to learn from someone with a wide range of experience in the industry. 

“I have learned a lot from Glenn, not just about engineering processes but also entrepreneurship. Additionally, I learned woodworking, critical and innovative thinking, user-centric designs and developed my skills,” said Shankar.

As for Jeet Patel, the applied project has given him the motivation to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. 

“Students don’t get this kind of a chance to work alongside an entrepreneur who has experience in the industry. We get to see firsthand what it takes to work in this field, and it has provided me with the knowledge I need to excel,” said Patel.

Verkindt has worked as a self-employed design engineer and entrepreneur for more than 40 years and recently started his own company Cellar Genius. He explained the power of collaboration and how it can benefit all parties involved. 

“Even the best designer can get stuck, like any creative professional. But when a small group of thinkers throw ideas around, or even just ask questions to clarify the issues and stimulate discussion, magic can truly happen,” Verkindt said. 

Cellar Genius now has an online presence and the minimal, efficient and Canadian-made innovative wine rack is available for order. Fleming mechatronics students will continue to work with Verkindt to develop the product even further. This includes adding an integrated lighting and sensing system using power supplied from the cables that suspend the bottles. A node above each bottle will backlight the wall behind the rack. In addition, the node will sense the presence of a bottle, turn on a label light, and update an app, adding that particular wine vintage to the app’s inventory. 

Shankar and Patel have gained immense knowledge and skills from this experience and are looking forward to what comes next. 

“I want to design and develop my own product one day. I want to work hard to achieve the success that my professors and Glenn have,” said Shankar.

“I hope to become an entrepreneur one day myself. Working on the smart wine rack gave me a sense of accomplishment which has inspired me to think outside the box when working on developing engineering products,” said Patel. 

Businesses looking for support from students and Fleming’s state-of-the-art facilities, or applicants interested in mechatronics applied projects, should contact Fleming Research Scientist and Professor Fereydoon Diba for more information: fereydoon.diba@flemingcollege.ca