Electrical Engineering for Industry and Society

Seniors Demonstrate Innovative Ideas

April 10, 2012 – A lightweight wearable antenna to track data gathered from medical devices implanted in the body. A cell phone case that detects and records electromagnetic radiation generated by the phone. A human contact logging system to monitor contagious diseases passed among school children.

These are among the thesis projects of graduating seniors in the University of Utah’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Many of the projects are supported by industrial sponsors, including L-3 Communications, Moxtek, Rocky Mountain Power and Sandia National Laboratories.

Student projects cover topics in biomedicine, renewable energy, wireless communications, entertainment and software design. The projects include:

  • A network of tiny sensors that operate without an internal power source. Each sensor may detect temperature, light or other environmental changes, and may be distributed over a large area without the need for wires. Possible uses include storage facility monitoring, home security and office building surveillance.
  • A voice-activated “smart drawer” that elderly and disabled people can open and close on command.
  • Technologies to make low-power, low-cost orientation sensors – like the sensors on a smartphone that tell it which way is north, up and down – 100 times more accurate than they are today.  Such accuracy would allow the sensors to help navigate a car even when GPS becomes unavailable.

“Many times, a problem that has been deemed impossible by industry veterans can get some fresh life through the eyes of a student,” says Steve Blair, director of the university’s Engineering Clinic Program.  “If you don’t tell the students a solution is impossible, many times they think of something novel that no one else has thought of.”

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering requires each student to complete a capstone design project prior to graduation. Students not only get the credit they need for graduation, but they also have the chance to get work experience and meet local engineering industrial leaders through their senior projects.

For a detailed schedule of the times and locations of student project presentations, see:
http://www.ece.utah.edu/uploads/ece-techfair-2012.pdf

For directions and maps of University Guest House and Fort Douglas Officer’s Club, see:
http://www.ece.utah.edu/uploads/ece-techfair-map.pdf

Media Contacts For This Story

director of the Engineering Clinic Program and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering
Office Phone: 801-585-6157
Email address: blair@ece.utah.edu
 
development and marketing, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Office Phone: 801-587-8238