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Computer Engineering Grads Dream Up Creative, Real-World Senior Projects

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Golfers might revel in a novel system that retrieves golf balls. Baseball fans and players could benefit from a technology-based or “smart’ contraption that eliminates bad umpire calls. With this remotely-operated underwater vehicle, marine researchers can explore the ocean.

These are some of the creative inventions Class of 2022 computer engineering graduates designed for their capstone senior projects.

The undergraduate students shared their projects May 20 at the Computer Engineering Capstone Senior Design Project Presentations and Demonstrations. The projects are part of their final grades in a two-semester course taught by Kiran George, professor of computer engineering and faculty adviser for the student teams.

Kiran George Headshot
Kiran George, professor of computer engineering

“The senior design project course sequence is intended to mimic the full-spectrum of an engineering design experience comparable to what students will encounter in industry,” said George, the university’s 2020 Outstanding Professor.

In the course, students develop a feasibility study and a project plan, and learn skills such as time budgeting, and oral, written and visual communications.

As part of the course, each team develops a functional prototype, which includes hardware and software components.

“The projects help students get prepared for the workforce by giving them a well-rounded experience,” George said. “Students are able to relate the theoretical concepts they learn as part of their coursework and apply it to real-world applications. These projects require them to think independently, do research and brainstorm different concepts.”

In addition to the typical challenges encountered by students, such as hardware and software issues, problems with initial designs or 3D printing snags, the pandemic created some unexpected obstacles, George noted.

“Students were unable to meet in person during the first course last fall,” George said. “Despite these roadblocks, they were resoundingly successful and were able to showcase their completed projects and effectively demonstrate the functional prototypes of their projects.”

Here are some of the projects:

underwater vehicle developed by students
Titan ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)

Name of project: Titan ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle)
Project description: The Titan ROV is a tethered, underwater vehicle that uses brushless motors to move around and a gripper to retrieve objects, a camera to provide real-time video and an Xbox controller to steer the vehicle.
Why project is important: This project allows for monitoring and retrieving unwanted objects in underwater ecosystems and can be applied to evidence retrieval in criminal investigations — all within a reasonable price.
One cool fact: The real-time video the ROV provides is fast – 1080p at 60 frames per second – making it rival the quality of games on gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox 1.
Project marketability: The project is marketable due to its low cost in comparison to other underwater vehicles.
Team members: Dakota Barrios, Humberto Portillo, Sean Sese and Thuan Truong
Kudos: The team won Best Student Project in Computer Engineering at the College of Engineering and Computer Science 2022 Student Projects Competition and Showcase.

Gold ball retriever developed by students
Automated Golf Ball Retriever

Name of project: Automated Golf Ball Retriever
Project description: A robot detects golf balls in a golf range and collects them using a tracking camera and other sensors to navigate through any obstacles.
Why project is important: It opens an opportunity to save power, time and resources by having a robot that can work 24/7 on a golf course with zero emissions and better longevity than any other options currently available.
One cool fact: The robot has a ludicrous mode just like the famous mode on Tesla cars; it can go very fast for a small robot car, even with a heavy machine on its back.
Project marketability: It is reliable, requires little maintenance, offers 24/7 runtime and it’s cheaper to operate than its competitors.
Team members: Ali Alqahtani, Brandon Rupp and Elizabeth Namba

Debra Cano Ramos