The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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ECE Seniors Demonstrate Savvy Engineering Inventions

Braillebook, a 2016 Senior Design Project

Braillebook, SDP 2016

On Friday, April 28, seniors from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst displayed and demonstrated 28 creative electronic inventions for the public. ECE hosted its 27th annual Senior Design Project Day on campus, when 28 teams of seniors unveiled a high-tech floor show for the electronics of the future. The public review of these senior design projects happened at the Gunness Engineering Student Center of Marcus Hall on the UMass Amherst campus from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., when students displayed their devices, demonstrated their functions, and answered questions from visitors on an individual basis. See full descriptions of all projects.

This year’s senior design projects included: a virtual umpiring system embedded into home plate for automatically calling balls and strikes; a device to sniff out active cell phones in classrooms during tests; an electronic system to help autistic people recognize emotions; and a drone submarine to gather data on river herring. Other clever projects included an automatic first-down tracker, an electronic device for travelers to monitor their baggage, wallets, and laptops, a customized prosthetic controlled by brain waves, and a fully-automated hydroponic system for apartment-dwellers.

Senior Design Day is literally the capstone of the ECE education. “The Senior Design Project is not only the culminating project in the ECE curriculum,” says T. Baird Soules, the department’s director of experiential learning, “but it is also where students broaden their skill base by making presentations, working in teams, and staying within their budgets.”

The Senior Design Project provides a crowning experience for undergraduate students in the ECE department. Students work in teams of four during a year-long course to design and build systems of their own conception. Each team is advised by a faculty member in the department, and projects undergo four formal reviews before faculty evaluators. The learning goals for the senior design project include technical design, an understanding of realistic constraints, teaming societal impact, and much more.

“The design project is as close as we can get to duplicating what these students will be doing in their professional lives,” says ECE Department Head Christopher Hollot.

The ECE department also offered a second day of demonstrations on Saturday, April 29. The Saturday festivities included a return engagement of all the senior design projects, taking place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Gunness Student Center. The Saturday demo also included the ECE’s 7th biannual Circuits and Code event from 1:00pm to 3:00pm in Marcus Hall, Room 5, celebrating its latest installment of technology, engineering, science, mathematics, and creativity through student projects. (April 2017)