Inside USD

Students’ Engineering Innovation on Display

Friday, December 9, 2011

When a pair of inventors, Jim Ross and Henry Eisenson, came to campus earlier this year to talk to electrical engineering students about an idea they had to improve driver awareness of approaching emergency vehicles, that’s when the light went on for seniors Leah Fairhead, Scott Gump, Jenni Boles and Brandon Kopinski (pictured, left to right).

Ross and Eisenson’s idea was to build a device that warns drivers earlier when emergency vehicles approach from behind and before hearing sirens and emergency vehicle lights serves as the first indicator. The students, seeing this as a great idea for their senior capstone project, jumped at a chance to make it a reality. The project, the Emergency Vehicle Alert System (EVAS), has been the focus of the students’ academic lives ever since.

“We’ve been here working on it a lot and at all different times of day,” Fairhead said. “This project has more hardware than other projects, but we see this as something that’s more than just an engineering project. It’s about safety. We’re creating something that helps people rather than building something they have to buy. It’s a great feeling to do something that gives back.”

At today’s USD Engineering Programs’ Fall Open House and Project Exhibition, which goes from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on the second and third floors of Loma Hall, the four-person team will provide an update on their progress.

The EVAS presentation, slated for 4:20-4:35 p.m., is one of five preliminary reports to be given by electrical engineering student groups in Loma Hall, Room 209. Five senior mechanical engineering groups will present in Loma 307, and a group of industrial and systems engineering projects will be explained in Loma 220. A general session with project poster presentations kicks off the open house in Loma 207 and 336.

Below is a brief synopsis of the engineering projects and presentation times.

Electrical Engineering

CURL Environmental Lab: Without the proper tools to advance building and sustainability and efficiency, our current life style is not supportable. The proposed virtual simulator enables high-fidelity replication of sustainable and efficient building environments. Presentation: 3-3:15 p.m.

Bio VSS: An extensible package of sensors including a heart rate monitor, core body temperature and external temperature in order to successfully manage units in the field for both military and civilian personnel. Presentation: 3:20-3:35 p.m.

Java Hardware: Project aims to create a modern demonstration platform, using components found in current consumer electronics. This demonstrates the use of the Xpresso Core XC-110 developed by Java Cores to efficiently and quickly process JavaTM directly in hardware. Presentation: 3:40-3:55 p.m.

Electri-Cool Magnetic Slot Racing: This project will return slot car racing to its original glory using magnet technology, revolutionizing the hobby by the elimination of the slot itself. The result includes, but isn’t limited to, a car that doesn’t need to be connected to the track, a track more closely resembling an actual track and drifting and motions associated with real racing. Presentation: 4-4:15 p.m.

Mechanical Engineering

Energy Relay Competition: This year’s ASME competition is the Energy Relay, in which each team must design four vehicles to autonomously complete a relay race. Each vehicle must have unique onboard power source and be triggered by the previous vehicle. Presentation: 3-3:15 p.m.

Kinetic Fountain: The final design will be a transportable fountain that can be integrated into an existing fountain that will display of an array of jets that activate in response to a musical input. Presentation: 3:20-3:35 p.m.

T-Shirt Folding Machine: The automated T-Shirt Folding Machine will output folded t-shirts precisely and efficiently due to a CNC process and the machine will be easily operated and maintained by one person which can reduce overall t-shirt production costs for companies. Presentation: 3:40-3:55 p.m.

Tennis Ball Design: An alternative tennis ball design that will lower the speed of the ball, without compromising the aerodynamic forces on the ball from the Magnus effect. This will lead to longer rallies and eliminate the current overwhelming service advantage. Presentation: 4-4:15 p.m.

Wind Tunnel: The group is redesigning the controls and instrumentation for wind tunnel and creating three new experiments for the wind tunnel experiments; two fluid dynamics experiments and one heat transfer experiment. Presentation: 4:20-4:35 p.m.

Industrial and Systems Engineering

(Presentations start approximately every 15 minutes, beginning at 2:30 p.m.)

Computer Simulation for Aromas and Tu Mercado: Students will their computer simulation models of two popular USD eating destinations, Tu Mercado and Aromas, to show where and when queues backup. They will make recommendations to help alleviate current constraints.

Computer Simulation for Baseball Game: Students will give a computer simulation of a baseball game that optimizes the batting order to provide the best offensive production.

Key Patient Flow Processes in Cardiovascular Surgical Lab: A team of students is working with Scripps Health to understand key patient flow processes that exist in a typical Cardiovascular Surgical Lab through development and use of a simulation model.

This is the first of two engineering open house events. The spring open house on May 11 will feature final presentations for all senior capstone projects.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Photo courtesy of USD Engineering Department

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