In this year’s Senior Design Project competition, held annually as the culminating event in the capstone course (ECE 415 and ECE 416) of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, five innovative and eye-catching projects caught the attention of the judges and the audience. Dual Play scored a double whammy by winning first place in the overall competition, along with a People’s Choice second place. Helping Hand, the second place winner in the overall competition, also won first place in the People’s Choice voting. The other prize-winning teams were Smart Desk (third place in overall competition), A-C-C-E-S-S (Coordinator’s Choice Award), and Alfred (People’s Choice third place).
The Senior Design Project provides a capstone experience for undergraduate students in the ECE department. The course instructors are Professors C.V. Hollot and Baird Soules. Students work in teams of three to four students in this year-long course sequence to design and prototype a system of their choice. Each team is advised by a faculty member in the department, and projects undergo several formal reviews. The learning goals for the Senior Design Project include technical design, team work, presentation skills, an understanding of realistic constraints, economics, and ethics.
The course coordinators (Professors Hollot and Soules) chose A-C-C-E-S-S because of its sublime combination of science, engineering design and commercial potential. A-C-C-E-S-S creators Victor Arango Quiroga, David Downs, Hassaan Khan, and Ivan Williams point out that “15 million Americans a year become victims of identity theft.” Their solution is a system that makes physical IDs from random patterns of microspheres suspended on glass substrates together with classification and detection algorithms for registering and accurately identifying sub-patterns acting as the desired unclonable “fingerprints.”
The Dual Play team of Suo An Gao, Yujia Huo, Lina Wu, and Siyu Wu attempted to make sharing TV possible without arguments or dustups by allowing a simultaneous full-screen display of two different visual contents through the wearing of corresponding glasses. The merged video is displayed on polarized 3D TV through HDMI. Users wear special 3D TV Glasses, which are different from typical polarized 3D glasses, in which the lenses filter different polarizations. “Our special 3D glasses have both lenses filtering the same polarized light,” as the team members explain. “Each pair of glasses can filter out one of the two sources.”
The team of Joshua Girard, Corey Ruderman, Daniel Travis, and Jacob Wyner created Helping Hand. As team members say, “We are revolutionizing the way people interact with robots. Robotic arms are used in everything from medical research to construction. As robotic technology becomes more prevalent in our society, more intuitive control approaches will be necessary. This will help make the technology more accessible to all users with little to no training.”
“Have you ever tried to get work done at your desk, but it was too cluttered?” asks the Smart Desk team of Aidan Fitzpatrick, Tristan Koopman, Daniel Mathieu, and John Melloni. “Our solution to this problem is eliminating the need for physical resources, from papers and books to calculators, and replacing them with a digital alternative. Our system offers the conventional functionality of a desk, a surface where one can place items on and do work, while offering an embedded touch screen.”
Patrick Barron, John Fouad, Ben Ivaldi, and Christopher Wong have invented Alfred, a Wifi-enabled automated mixed drink maker. “People wait too long at bars trying to get the bartender’s attention to order simple mixed drinks,” as they point out. Alfred eliminates bartender pouring errors such as disproportionately pouring drinks or even providing the wrong drink.
The coupled coursework of ECE 415 and ECE 416 requires students to work in small design teams to solve significant engineering problems. It reinforces principles of the engineering design process and serves as a capstone for electrical and computer engineering knowledge obtained in the ECE curriculum. The consideration of the ethical and social implications of technology and the basic concepts of business are also aspects of the course. A complete or partially working system is demonstrated by each team at the end of the course during the Senior Design Project competition.