The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) were the big winners at the 27th Annual Engineering EXPO on Friday, April 22, at the UIC Forum. Along with first-place finishes in their categories, ECE teams took home both top awards during the expo, which featured 119 senior design projects in 21 categories. The expo projects were all geared toward solving real-world challenges with topics representing majors from all six departments in the College of Engineering. The teams displayed a wide variety of creativity, ingenuity, teamwork and intelligence during the event as they impressed guest judges from a variety of engineering industries. All of the first-place teams were awarded $1,000.
The team of Lucas Enright, of Willowbrook, Barry Ng, of Chicago, Tyler Parchem, of Lockport, and Anthony Zaprzalka, of Rolling Meadows, won the “Khounsary Award for Social and/or Environmental Advancement” for their project “Household Air Quality Sensor.” The award included an additional prize of $1,000 for the team, who also won first place in the “Electronic Devices II” category.
“When we got to the Expo we were a little nervous and wanted to make sure we had everything together,” said Enright. “One of the judges said he would want to buy one of our Household Air Quality Sensors if it ever went to market. We were ecstatic when we heard our names called for first place. We were still congratulating each other and celebrating that we didn’t even realize our names were being called again for winning the Khounsary Award. We couldn’t be happier with our success at the EXPO.”
“It was very exciting knowing that all the hard work and late nights working on the project interested the judges enough that they felt our project was worthy of first place in our category,” said Zaprzalka. “The second award was just as exciting and very humbling. Our project was picked from the entire expo and stood out from all of the other great projects.”
“I was surprised to win the awards,” said Parchem. “Our group just went into the expo with the mentality that if we do our best we will be happy with any outcome.”
“I was ecstatic when we won both awards,” said Ng. “The fact that there was so much competition this year, made this achievement that much more valuable.”
Unlike other devices on the market, their sensor is an all-in-one device that records and displays several air-quality measurements. It has the ability to be interactive and provide useful feedback.
According to the team, “This detector continuously monitors temperature and humidity as well as the concentrations of carbon monoxide, natural gas, smoke and other gases throughout the home. An alarm and LED indicators will alert the residents of any harmful gas concentrations. All the data can be accessed directly from the device where it will be logged and displayed on the LCD screen for the user to view. The data history can also be viewed with any home computer using the internal SD card. The Household Air Quality Sensor will save lives by alerting the residents of any threats to their safety.”
The team of Ramsin Adamz, of Glen Ellyn, Kamil Koziol, of Chicago, Brian Nielsen, of Downers Grove, and Daniel Poarch, of Chicago, were awarded the “Office of Technology Management Innovation Award 3K9A8574” for their project “Smart Plug.” The award included an additional prize of $1,000 for the team, who also won first place in the “Interdisciplinary Energy Systems” category.
“Once it was announced that we won first place, we were overwhelmed with joy and were relieved to have won,” said Adamz. “Our group was so ecstatic to have won, that we almost missed the following announcement of the winner of the Innovation award. We feel honored, and rewarded for all the time we put into the project.”
The team designed a tool that has the potential to manage and monitor every device connected to the electric network of a home or an office building. Their “Smart Plug” system can coexist or replace traditional outlets connected to the electric network, and utilize a combination of hardware and software to analyze and control the electrical network.
According to the team, “One advantage of our system is that it integrates Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to enable device recognition. This permits efficient monitoring for Smart Plug-aware outlets and devices. The information collected by the outlets will be shared using narrow band communication technologies which operate over existing electrical wiring of the building. A central device located in or near the existing breaker panel can communicate with a consumer’s PC or mobile device to analyze power consumption. This allows the consumer to see real-time cost savings in their home or business. The central device can provide automation and switching capabilities to control and reduce power consumption throughout the entire residential or commercial power network.”
Additional ECE first-place winners were Mike Cleary, Abdullah Elagha, and Jorge Martinez for the project “Autonomous Relief Transportation (ART) Drone” in the “Electronic Devices I” category; Amir Elias, Soroush Kadineh, Omar Khan, Sumair Mithani for the project “Design of a Smarter Braking System that will Make the Road A Safer Place” in the “Electronic Products” category; and Ilham Kabir, Aniq Sukhera for the project “Financial Reform” in the “Interdisciplinary Software and Computer Applications” category.
Find all of the Expo winners and project details here.
By David Staudacher, UIC