First Annual Senior Design Project Contest

First Annual Senior Design Project Contest
First Annual Senior Design Project Contest
Thursday, July 13, 2006

This Spring marked the launch of the first ever Senior Design Project Contest. Twice each year, seniors in Electrical and Computer Engineering complete a two-quarter capstone course, entitled Senior Design Class. In this course series, students work in cross-disciplinary teams, applying knowledge and skills gained in their elective track to complete a significant interdisciplinary design project.

To further enhance the experience, the contest provided the students an opportunity to present their projects to an external review board of Professional Engineering Alumni, to evaluate the quality of the projects and to give students feedback on their technology, design, and collaborative skills.

The alumni panel of judges rated each team based upon the following three criteria: technological innovation and realization; presentation ability; and effective team collaboration. The highest ranked team won $2,000! The winner's prize was contributed by the Baskin School's Dean Kang and Sr. Design donor Harwood Kolsky.

Each team had half an hour total presentation time which included fifteen minutes to demonstrate their project followed by another fifteen of question and answer by the judges. Time limits were strictly enforced.

The contestants, already exhausted from finals as well as demonstrating their projects for their final class review until late the night before, nonetheless rallied to present five excellent and well-thought out projects. (Abstracts of each project follow, along with photos.)

After a short deliberation period, during which time the contestants kicked off their hard-earned celebratory barbeque outside with their friends and families, Professor Patrick Mantey announced the awards. The grand prize went to the Yellowstone project (description below), with the second prize of a $200 gift certificate for services at Cruzio going to ScavBuoy, and a tie for third place between the Relative GPS team and SeaSight.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to the contributing faculty and especially to the alumni judges. Hope to see you at next year's contest!

Project abstracts:

Project #1: Relative GPS GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a popular and widely used technology. It allows users to access their whereabouts on a global scale with the help of orbiting satellites. The term relative refers to a comparison between two or more objects. Thus, with a relative GPS system we are finding the relative distances between two or more devices with the use of GPS. More specifically, we are creating a flexible embedded system that uses a least squares approach to obtain relative vector between multiple units.

This embedded system has an FPGA solution at its core allowing any user to easily reconfigure the device and tailor it for their specific need, while maintaining a small chip count. We also intend on using low cost GPS receivers. The problem with less expensive GPS receivers is they mainly deal with a less accurate trilateration technique. This is where we intend to show off the power of a least squares approach. Our final product will be an inexpensive solution to a very expensive problem.

These RelativeGPS (RGPS) devices have many potential applications such as surveying, vehicle docking, and navigation. Our particular application of interest is relaying swarming autonomous vehicle positions to avoid collisions and more intelligently navigate through complex terrain.

Project #2: SeaSight SeaSight is a long-range, high-resolution underwater imaging system that serves as a midway point between sonar (long-range, low-resolution) and video (short-range, high-resolution). It was proposed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to aid their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) observe marine life which would otherwise be frightened by bright lights and vibrations emitted by the vehicle. The proposed imaging system functions by shining a laser at a distant object and measuring the intensity of reflected light. Such information can be transformed into a digital image, which depicts the surface of a helix whose height represents time, by sweeping the laser perpendicularly to the motion of an ROV. Much of this project happened to be an exercise in data acquisition and representation. Though the device constructed by the UCSC senior design group was unsuitable for deployment on an ROV, it is a significant step toward developing a valuable imaging device for underwater research. Website is http://seasight.org

Project #3: Digital Wax A group of five diverse engineering students formed a team to design and build a system that will change the way people interact with digital music. Our goal is to build an intuitive audio control system that consists of today's high quality digital audio and the unique time tested feel of the classic turntable. Our project will provide DJs and musicians with a plug and play solution that offers the ability to control digital music without an expensive computer.

Project #3: Digital Wax A group of five diverse engineering students formed a team to design and build a system that will change the way people interact with digital music. Our goal is to build an intuitive audio control system that consists of today's high quality digital audio and the unique time tested feel of the classic turntable. Our project will provide DJs and musicians with a plug and play solution that offers the ability to control digital music without an expensive computer.

Project #4: Scavenger Buoy ScavBuoy is a project developed by a team of seniors at University of California, Santa Cruz. The objective of this project is to design, build and deploy a buoy system capable of scavenging its own source of energy with the use of ocean waves. To prove the power scavenging techniques, it also collects oceanic sensory data, which is transmitted wirelessly back to any laptop with 802.11b support. The wireless link provides a dynamic interface for users to configure the buoy to specific needs. In order to scavenge ocean waves into energy, it uses a custom designed solenoid and magnet toroid generator. Similar to the "Shake Flashlights" seen on television, this will be utilizing Faraday's Law of induction. The design has several different sensors to measure temperature, and flourescent lighting. The buoy also incorporates a self-diagnostic system to monitor its battery status and overall system health including water leaks. The website is: http://scavbuoy.spothots.com

Project #5: Yellowstone A working prototype wireless networked system for monitoring geysers in Yellowstone National Park in near real time with data displayed on a user interface at a central base station. This segment will feature presentations by both the sensor and digital system as well as the wireless communications team.

USGS currently monitors the temperature of various parts of Yellowstone National. At their request, we are designing a low-power, wireless sensor mesh network which will automatically record and upload temperature readings to a server. This will allow USGS to remotely monitor the temperature variances where our nodes are deployed. The data will be available on the internet allowing geologists to perform their duties from anywhere in the world. The data collected from these sensors will be transmitter through a custom wireless link back to a base station. The wireless link will operate at 27 MHz and will be required to link nodes as far as one kilometer away.