Senior Design Projects Fall 2007

Gap Sensor Development

Gap Sensor Development

Suggested ECE Interests

Signal Processing, Communications, Computers

Other Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering

Sponsor

Kimberly-Clark

Project Overview

The sponsor’s high-speed manufacturing operations include a converting process utilizing die cutting modules to cut certain shapes into a moving web.  The die cutting module consists of an upper roll that houses the shaped die knives, and a lower anvil roll.  The web is continuously fed through the module and as the knife and anvil roll turn and contact each other, the force generated cuts the material between them.  If the upper and lower rolls are too far apart, they won’t generate the necessary cutting force; if they are too close together the knives dull to the point where they no longer cut and need to be replaced.  There are many factors that result in changes in the distance between the knife and anvil rolls including thermal expansion, harmonic vibrations, component wear and improper set-up to name a few.  This team of EE and ME seniors will develop a sensor to continuously measure the gap between the upper and lower rolls on a die cutter.  The design must be robust to withstand the manufacturing environment as well as produce a stable signal unaffected by the environment.  The required resolution is +/- 0.000050” (50 millionths).  The desired result is a working sensor system that addresses:  discrete interfaces, a user interface, networking communication, signal processing, data rate and statistical capabilities, a means of calibration, and method of validation.

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Autonomous Vehicle Control Phase II

Autonomous Vehicle Control Phase II

Suggested ECE Interests

Communications, Controls, Electronics, Signal Processing

Other Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering

Sponsor

BAE Systems

Project Overview

The sponsor is a world-class designer, manufacturer and through-life supporter of a wide range of industrial wheeled vehicles and military tactical trucks with payload capacity from 2 to 18 tons. Their line of tactical vehicles is considered the most sophisticated and capable off-road, multi-purpose military tactical vehicles in use today.  This project will advance the capabilities of a prototype autonomous control system on one of the sponsor’s existing vehicles located locally in Houghton, MI.  A multidisciplinary Senior Design team of CpE, EE, and ME students is challenged with designing improvements to: make the steering and braking systems more robust and fault tolerant; implement some method of remote transmission control; and develop a means for remote control that replaces the current 'wired' joystick control.  A key constraint to the autonomous control system design is that the vehicle cannot be permanently modified in any way.  The team will have access to the vehicle for design and validation activities, with the opportunity to demonstrate the working design on the vehicle.

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Tracking and Controls for the AMJOCH Observatory

Tracking and Controls for the AMJOCH Observatory

Suggested ECE Interests

Controls, Motor Drives, Photonics

Other Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering, Physics

Sponsor

CISSIC-Roggemann

Project Overview

The MTU AMJOCH observatory is located near Atlantic Mine, MI, minutes from campus. It houses a Meade 16 inch telescope on an Az-El mount inside a small, manually operated dome. This system has historically been used for some astronomical observations and educational purposes. The goal of this project is to automate the control system for the telescope mount so that eventually satellites in geosynchronous orbits can be tracked. The overarching goals of the Observatory are to study atmospheric calibration for very accurate spectral measurements of these objects, and to gather data about turbulence effects on imaging systems in the local area. The ideal team composition includes EE, ME, and Physics (major/minor) students with knowledge of orbits.

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Steer-by-Wire Development

Steer-by-Wire Development

Suggested ECE Interests

Controls, Electronics, Computers

Other Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering

Sponsor

General Motors

Project Overview

While ‘x-by-wire’ technology is a mainstream technology in aviation, further development is required for use in the automotive industry. Continuing the development of previous Senior Design teams, this multi-disciplinary team of CpE, EE, and ME seniors will advance the robustness and production feasibility of a steer-by-wire steering system. The team’s first challenge will be to gain a solid understanding of the current system by relocating it from its current storage location in Hancock to the M&M Building on campus. The team will perform a baseline assessment of the system shortcomings and prioritize design improvements. For reference, key improvements identified by last year’s team include: hardware packaging in the passenger compartment; steering linkage robustness; control through dSpace via CAN; control logic and hardware to improve lock-to-lock performance; and pedal location. The team will have the opportunity to showcase the vehicle’s performance on-campus during the job fairs (Oct. and Feb.) as well as the Undergraduate Expo (Apr.).

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Remote Control of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Remote Control of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Suggested ECE Interests

Computers, Electronics, Communications, Signal Processing

Sponsor

Oshkosh

Project Overview

The sponsor is interested in the development of a Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) compliant interface to allow operation of one of their completely autonomous vehicles. Much like controlling a vehicle in a video game, the interface will use commercial of the shelf (COTS) wireless network technology to supply commands to the low level controls, bypassing the higher level autonomous navigation system, allowing an operator to drive the vehicle while observing streaming video data on the operator console. Additional functionality would be the ability to accept other JAUS complaint payloads such as sensor systems or manipulators. Working with the sponsor’s Advanced Product Engineering group. The team will have access to the sponsor’s hardware-in-the-loop simulator for development, as well as access to the vehicle for final demonstration purposes.

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Neutral Current Sensors for Fixed Capacitor Banks

Neutral Current Sensors for Fixed Capacitor Banks

Suggested ECE Interests

Power

Sponsor

American Electric Power

Project Overview

The ‘modern grid initiative’ aims to advance the modernization of our nation's electricity grid. Among the many benefits are targeted improvements in controls, diagnostics, and self-healing systems. This project will address such improvements within the context of capacitor bank failures. Capacitor bank maintenance is historically cost and time intensive. These costs escalate once a failure has occurred and can also compromise power quality / grid stability. An opportunity exists to use neutral current sensor technology to develop a faster, more reliable method of diagnosing fixed capacitor bank failures. The team is challenged to develop a working design that can be validated in the ECE power labs, with a potential opportunity to test on a portion of the sponsor’s grid.

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Enhanced transmission system data acquisition and control via SEL-3351

Enhanced transmission system data acquisition and control via SEL-3351

Suggested ECE Interests

Power, Signal Processing, Communications

Sponsor

International Transmission Corporation

Project Overview

The sponsor continues to grow and expand in the area of electricity transmission and is interested in technologies that improve DATA acquisition and Control of their assets. Existing methods and practices do not include automated data collection. The Data concentrator will act as a smart interface device between Intelligent Electronic devices and Remote substation control and data acquisition platforms. A student team will investigate the capabilities of the SEL-3351 device, as well as the implementation of the device, within the context of the sponsor’s system. The potential to deploy this device across the system can significantly improve system operations and performance analysis. A standard design and implementation methodology for this application is desired; specific areas to address include data collection; data transfer; time synchronization; dynamic response; tracking of access; screen layouts for alarm and notifications; and historical charting capabilities. The team has an SEL GPS clock available from a previous project and will gain access to SEL hardware for the project with support from the sponsor.

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Real Time Java for Embedded Systems

Real Time Java for Embedded Systems

Suggested ECE Interests

Computers

Sponsor

Caterpillar

Project Overview

With the increasing level of complexity and sophistication in embedded software, some of the limitations of C are beginning to become clear. Limited type checking, lack of enforcing real time constraints, difficulty in maintenance, poor portability, and lack of training in new hires are some of the difficulties that must be overcome in C programming language to improve development efficiency. Real time Java overcomes these limitations but may not be mature enough for industry use, especially on simple systems that lack memory management and sophisticated operating systems. The team is challenged to assess the feasibility of Real-Time Java for the sponsor’s earthmoving machine applications. Key project outcomes are: performing background research into use of higher level, object oriented languages for embedded real-time systems; development of a Java program running on a real-time target meeting hard real-time constraints; interface requirements with legacy ‘C’ drivers and software, including demonstration of a Java application interfacing with a ‘C’ application; and recommendations for future work. The sponsor will supply a processor evaluation board as well as input for the objectives of the demonstration application.

[View Senior Design Projects in Flickr]
Energy Dashboard Development using Advanced Metering Capabilities

Energy Dashboard Development using Advanced Metering Capabilities

Suggested ECE Interests

Computers, Power, Communications, Signal Processing, Electronics

Sponsor

American Electric Power

Project Overview

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an emerging topic of interest as global energy demands increase. Electronic power meters have the capability to provide additional data beyond monthly power consumption. This team will investigate and exploit this technology to expand functionality for the benefits of consumers and utilities alike. Increased consumer visibility in the home can drive conservation and leveling efforts and thereby make them an interactive component in the system. Continuous feedback to the utility can provide true grid load and grid health. At the household level, an electronic power meter has the potential to provide real-time data on usage, power quality, etc. A 'dashboard' for the consumer's home (i.e. on a PC or perhaps a device similar to a home weather station) as well as a scheme for communicating relevant data of interest to the utility and field service personnel is desired. Working with the sponsor to define what information should be interrogated from the meter, the team is challenged to develop a working prototype.

[View Senior Design Projects in Flickr]
Next-Generation Hybrid Electric Vehicle Power Management System

Next-Generation Hybrid Electric Vehicle Power Management System

Suggested ECE Interests

Controls, Electronics, Motor Drives, Power

Other Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering

Sponsor

Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation

Project Overview

Global trends continue to drive the development of vehicles with lower emissions and higher energy efficiencies. Hybrid power trains are gaining interest as a viable technology. The sponsor is particularly interested in a local company’s proprietary series hybrid vehicle technology and its implications for the future of Michigan’s automotive industry. Most current hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) use a parallel scheme, whereby the internal combustion engine and electric motors are directly coupled to the wheels through geared components. However, in a series hybrid electric scheme, an engine is used to drive a generator/alternator, which in turn can charge batteries and/or directly drive traction motors at the wheels. This de-coupling of the engine allows for much greater efficiencies, reduced emissions and greenhouse gases, and flexibility to utilize a variety of engines (internal combustion, turbine, etc.). The size of this engine can be scaled down considerably as well. The key to making this system work is in the power management system, which needs to be refined and proven. Working with the local inventor, the team will model a series hybrid system and the power management system/architecture (i.e. using Matlab/Simulink). After analyzing and refining the power management model to balance performance and efficiency, the team will work with the local company’s technical contact to support the prototype vehicle development. This team may or may not get to a final working vehicle prototype, and it is anticipated that this work could be further refined by a future Enterprise/Senior Design team(s).

[View Senior Design Projects in Flickr]