From Theory to Practice: ECE Senior Design

November 30, 2017

As the end of the semester approaches, students in NC State's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering capstone engineering course are feeling the heat. Students spend two semesters working on projects that aim for them to create, design and develop a real world solution to a proven problem. The students work in teams, sponsored by industry partners, starting with a problem statement, analyzing product requirements, evaluating solutions and defining a solution. They proceed to develop a project plan culminating in a working prototype to verify their solution.

The students get the opportunity to demo their projects and prototypes at the end of each semester at Engineering Design Day. The students in their second semester of Senior Design have their finished projects on display for the public and a series of judges that will evaluate the teams' progress to their objectives, their technical solutions, and their ability to confront real-world problems.

Students working the Troxler Design Lab 
Students working the Troxler Design Lab

Engineering student Dana Shrader and peers Tim Alexander, Carina Selph and Kev Ficker worked to design a device to prevent unattended cooking fires. These students worked on the Kitchen Safety Assistant, or KSA which "detects presence in the kitchen, stove to cooking, and potentially dangerous cooking situations that could lead to a fire-- alerting users both locally and remotely." Their technical solution will be able to confront the real-world problem of kitchen fires, which are the number one cause of home fires and injuries.

The first semester students present their work-in-progress projects, showing the first steps they've taken to create a working prototype, and showing where they expect to be by the end of the following semester.

This semester students are working on a variety of projects, including, but not limited to: smart recycling, smart plumbing, utility grid control, robotic assistants for construction a voice activated wheelchair and even a wine blending device.

Alex Nowinski, a student involved in the Smart Plumbing Project believes that his groups project will contribute to real-world problems because unaccounted water usage can be linked to leaks within plumbing designs. With the Smart Plumbing Project, the group created a device to detect leaks on  a wide spectrum including small holes in a toilet flapper, to a burst pipe, a SMS and/or email is sent to the user. Cameron Rouse, also a member of the Smart Plumbing Project says, "reducing the amount of water wasted in the typical American household, while also making progress towards a more complete picture of the smart home."

Kevin Acken and his group focused on an agricultural issue regarding a tool to measure moisture for poor cocoa bean farmers in the West African countries of the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Aiming to empower cocoa bean farmers by creating an affordable cocoa bean moisture meter that will cost $10. 

The Senior Design students will be presenting this Friday, December 1, 2017, from 1pm-4pm at the McKimmon Center, with the awards being announced at 3pm.