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Ohio University senior electrical engineering students display final designs

By Joe Barbaree

Athens, Ohio (May, 2012) – Eight teams of electrical engineering seniors at Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology displayed their final capstone design projects May 23-24 in the Academic & Research Center living room atrium.design1

The annual event included projects developed for a range of clients, from the Federal Aviation Administration to the university’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Bryan Riley teaches the three-quarter class sequence – EE495A/B/C – that takes ideas and brings them to final production.

 “It’s rewarding to see and experience the growth of the students over an entire year,” Riley said. “I think all the projects were exciting, unique and challenging from a technological perspective,” he added, noting the students’ level of pride and accomplishment.

Team UFO built and designed a custom vertical take-off and landing hovercraft to test flight control algorithms as part of an FAA-sponsored design competition. For the project, “Collision Avoidance Systems for Foreign Object Detection During Aircraft Taxiing Operations,” undergraduate students built and modified the tri-rotor craft while graduate students programmed flight algorithms, according to senior team member Robert Mash.

design2The tri-rotor design of the craft presented unique problems for the team, but they intended that from the get-go, according to Mash. While many hovercraft designs rely on quad-rotor designs, the team’s design will help prepare flight control software in quad- rotor craft to adapt to three rotors in the event that one rotor were to fail.

Mash was excited for future work on the project – by next year’s electrical engineering project leaders. “There’s a good chance this could be flying in the Convocation Center next year during the Student Research and Creative Activity Expo,” Mash said.

The team expects to hear competition results by June 8.

Another student team may even see its work implemented campus-wide.

Solid State Lighting developed a way to retrofit lighting units on Ohio University’s main campus with LED (light-emitting diode)  light bulbs. The new bulbs use remarkably less energy than standard tungsten ones currently in use – just 77 watts compared to tungsten bulbs’ 219 watts.

The potential money that could be saved – roughly $600,000 over the next 10 years – interested university officials such that the team will present an implementation plan to university staff, to encompass 508 lighting units.design3

“Just the aspect that our project may actually be used on campus is really exciting,” said team member Stephen Griffith. “We’ve been working on it for the past year and a half, so it’s cool to see where it’s going.”

Other projects included improvements to the Russ College and OU-HCOM’s health-screening kiosks,  programming a drone to autonomously detect, approach, attach and finally harvest power from a live power line for extended UAV flight operation,
a set of sensors to protect unattended vehicles from rain damage and children from hyperthermia in unattended vehicles, modifying a robotic platform to enable search and rescue capabilities, and a robotic bobcat that can walk and turn as well as interact with people through a tactile sensor.

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