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As the culmination of their yearlong senior design experience, electrical and computer engineering students at Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology demonstrated their capstone projects Wednesday in the Academic & Research Center living room atrium.
Eight teams developed design-to-build projects as part of hands-on experiences focused on solving problems of modern-day society using electrical and computer engineering concepts, from programming to control systems.
Team ARS (Aircraft Runway Safety) improved a situational awareness system for pilots to enhance the safety of pilots, passengers and assets by integrating cameras and ultra-sonic sensor data. Pilots can see an animated representation of the data, which can be useful in low-visibility conditions like fog, snow and rain.
“This system gives pilots an audible and visual warning to give them more time to stop,” explained electrical engineering senior Ryan Arnold. “When a plane’s on a runway and there are other planes, trucks or people coming on the runway before takeoff, it gives them another look because they have so many blind spots.”
Arnold said he got a realistic view of how much planning goes into a real world engineering project.
“Something that you would think would be so miniscule takes days and months and hours of planning out ahead of time,” he said. “You’re not just going in ad-hoc and making the same mistakes over and over again.”
The senior design instructor, Professor of Electrical Engineering Jim Zhu, said the course is an important and useful experience that takes students through the entire engineering management experience.
“If their project is successful, when they go to a job interview, they can show the prospective employer their report,” Zhu explained. “Employers know how difficult it is to make designs work. On the test you can make an A if you get a 90 out of 100, but in the real world it doesn’t work unless it’s 100 percent correct.”
Team Bobcat Metrics developed a water quality measurement system with integrated water quality sensors, a communication protocol, an in-situ energy generator and a control unit that monitors and operates the other subsystems autonomously. Water quality data samples and data from a remote location can be sent to the user either at preprogrammed time or on-demand.
Electrical engineering senior Jerry Sinclair said the project enabled him to apply his knowledge in a real setting.
“The senior design course is important because you get to take everything that you have learned and implement that knowledge and ability into actually building something that’s real,” said Sinclair, whose team recently won two first-place ribbons at the 2014 Ohio University Student Research and Creative Activity Expo.
Team UFO (Unbelievably Fun Object) improved the controls system for a small multi-rotor remote-controlled aircraft, and Team OGRE designed a robot that autonomously navigates indoors and generates a map of the interior of a building.
Team Boron Inc. worked to design a process for a UV solid-state light source – using boron nitride rather than the current mercury-based phosphor — for recycling water in space. Ultimately, the boron-based phosphor would be integrated into a light to treat wastewater when fresh water is in low supply.
“The final outcome we want to reach is to get a UV-C light emittance from our sample, and that spectrum of light will reduce the production of certain bacteria,” electrical engineering senior Emily Bryan said.
Bryan noted that teamwork and communication are skills she’s taking away from the experience as she prepares to graduate.
“It’s a great way to work with a group and for a long period of time,” she said. “I think it really prepares you for the work place.”