The best thing about our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department is that it offers hands-on experience along with modern theoretical studies. Every year the ECE department organizes seminars by prominent scientists and engineers, software introduction seminars and student competitions. Their recent eNewsletter featured several competitions I thought I would share with you.
These sponsored competitions are fun ways to put to practice what we’ve learned in our classes. They are also great opportunities to explore different fields of engineering and science. Although mostly seniors participate in these competitions as their senior design projects, juniors are also welcomed to take part!
NASA’s 2013 Lunabotics Competition
NASA’s Lunabotics Competitions will bring together an inter-disciplinary team who will be challenged to design and build an excavator, called a Lunabot, which can mine and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant in 10 minutes. The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the lunar material, the weight and size limitations of the Lunabot, and the ability to tele-robotically or autonomously control the Lunabot from a remote mission control center. The scoring will require teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required, and level of autonomy. Over 50 teams from all over the world are registered to compete for the coveted grand prize, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence.
The Florida Tech team is comprised of 10 students, 6 of them being from electrical and computer engineering. The team structure helps students work together to find real-world solutions to engineering challenges in the type of multi-disciplinary environment that can be found in a corporate/government setting.
Here is a video from past competitions Florida Tech’s Lunabotics team has participated in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WowhWzMjcw&list=PLA0BC1B4D672D9DDF
Cornell Cup Competition
A team of electrical engineering and computer engineering students will be competing in The Cornell Cup USA, a robotic competition sponsored by Intel Corporation. According to Cornell University, The Cornell Cup is a college-level embedded design competition “created to empower student teams to become the inventors of innovative applications of embedded technology”. Students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their design skills, which are in demand in today’s economy, as they transform their ideas into a well-planned, robust reality. Finalist teams will culminate in an inspiring two-day summit event at Walt Disney World, where they can attend exciting and entertaining talks, network with leading engineering companies and ultimately showcase their innovative projects. Selected finalists will be awarded funding and equipment to help further develop their entries. At the finals, the top three entries will win grand prizes set at $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500!
IEEE SouthEastCon Hardware Contest
For only the second time in history, a group of electrical engineering and computer engineering students are competing in the IEEE’s Southeastern Conference hardware competition. The project involves building a robot that can automatically sort colored blocks and put them in a predetermined location. The student team, led by Project Manager Kyle Desrosier, has already received the majority of the components for this year’s design and they are now in a testing phase. The group is divided into two teams. The navigation team of the project is handling the functional design for the payload portion of the robot that is currently being simulated which includes functions necessary for navigation. The communication team is working on wireless communication and has been successfully completing its milestones.
Northrop Grumman Engineering and Science Student Design Showcase
Every year, the Northrop Grumman sponsored showcase features the final projects of Engineering and Science students. In 2012, a total of 66 engineering and 56 science projects were on display. The best projects compete for the Northrop Grumman Champion Award in Engineering, Northrop Grumman Champion Award in Science and Florida Tech President’s Cup Award in Engineering. Since most of the engineering projects require some form of electrical or computer system to run, the ECE department commonly works with other campus departments. Some of the projects that will be making it to the showcase from the ECE department are “Voice Controlled Robotic Arm,” “Cellular Network Evaluator,” “Multifunction Bus Stop,” “Enhanced Roller Coaster Vehicle” and many more. This big event is a motivation for students to push themselves towards creating innovative and useful projects with real word applications.
All of these unique and challenging competitions provide students with opportunities to flex their skills, work in multi-disciplinary groups and get real world, hands-on experience.