- NASA Mars Weather Station by M. Cole Hendricks, J. E. West Redington, S. Sahir Shehzad, and Byron M. Watts [View Image]
M. Cole Hendricks, J. E. West Redington, S. Sahir Shehzad, and Byron M. Watts
The purpose of this project is to design an economical ground based weather station, with the overall goal of using these stations to gather meteorological data on the planet Mars. This data will then be used to create a working meteorological model for the planet, which in turn will be used to better coordinate the necessary resources to plan and carry out a manned mission to Mars. These weather stations will function by taking various meteorological measurements, such as air and ground temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, UV radiation levels, and air pressure, and then transmit this data to one of the Mars orbiters, which will then send the data to Earth. These measurements are to be taken every 100 seconds, day and night, for at least one full Martian year (two Earth years). The major concern with this proposal was making sure that the design itself remains as economical as possible, but at the same time remaining durable enough to survive in the Martian environment, as well as having the longevity to remain functional for more than one Martian year. In order to tackle this problem, the development of the stations was broken down into four separate areas of focus, being data collection, data transmission, power supply, and transportation, with additional considerations towards cost, durability, and feasibility. Taking into account these areas of focus and considerations, a product was designed that would function by using pre-existing technologies that could be easily replicated.
- Plant Process Emulator by Ben Horstmann, Krista Wood, David Adu-Mensah, and Felix Baffoe-Ofori [View Image]
Ben Horstmann, Krista Wood, David Adu-Mensah, and Felix Baffoe-Ofori
The purpose of this project is to provide the VCU Engineering Students with a training system to simulate the use of Industrial Automation systems. Students need a wide variety of training systems to adequately train and improve their knowledge of all the fundamentals of PLC systems. There are multiple companies that sell a very expensive training setup that can teach students about Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) control systems and mechanical systems but those systems cost too much (~$20,000+) for a small university or trade school to fund. The training system that was built provides the student with real world control and monitoring of physical plant attributes like fluid level control and temperature control. A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is used to instantiate the PID’s for both level control and temperature control. A level transmitter and a thermocouple act as the process variables and the solenoid valves and a heater act as the manipulating variables to adjust the level and temperature respectively. All components of the system work harmoniously together to simulate a physical plant process. The demonstrations run through this trainer show how the hardware and software work together to allow the operator control of the system. The goal is to allow students a chance to be exposed to different uses of PLC’s and PID’s.
- Spirit of Broad Street Station by Rhey Igou, Allyson Yohe, and Kyle Sutherland [View Image]
Rhey Igou, Allyson Yohe, and Kyle Sutherland
The Science Museum of Virginia used to be an active train station, known as Broad Street Station. The building itself has since been radically renovated and contains a vast history of important visitors and events. The Science Museum has hundreds of beautiful photos from throughout the building’s lifespan, however the average visitor to the museum might not even realize that the museum was once a train station. The goal of this project was to present these photographs in a “story” format as the user is traveling through the museum. This is accomplished with Bluetooth beacons (Estimotes), placed in relevant locations around the museum to relate that location with a photo story. An Android application is linked to the beacons, which will notify visitors as they enter a beacon’s range. The stories themselves are managed in a WordPress website, for ease of content management and so that those who do not want to use the app may view the photos outside of the museum, at their leisure. The app pulls in the posts from the website, which are each linked to their own beacon.
- Sensor Technology using Fluorescent Dyes by Rebecca Jarrell, Rashed Rashed, and Joshua Petteway [View Image]
Rebecca Jarrell, Rashed Rashed, and Joshua Petteway
This project is concerned with the application of fluorescent dye technology for leak detection in pulp and paper recovery boiler systems in order to avoid a smelt / water explosion. The dyes’ property to absorb light of short wavelength and emit light of a longer wavelength (fluoresce) is what makes them a quintessential candidate for the desired sensor technology. The projected benefits of this technology pertain to cost-effectiveness and safety of recovery boiler operations.
For all purposes, the inert dye pyrenetetrasulfonic acid (PTSA) was used as a tracer agent. Multiple methods of experimental design were attempted to determine the reaction kinetics of the aforementioned dye. These methods involved exposing the dye to a specific temperature and monitoring its decomposition rate manually using a fluorometer. The dye was exposed to elevated temperature and pressure conditions in microwave reactors, such as Biotage and CEM Microwave. A design of experiments protocol was developed and executed, and the data collected was analyzed.
It was established that PTSA decomposed on a 1st order reaction rate, and corresponding mathematical models were established using mass and energy balances. MATLAB simulations were developed and compared with actual experimental data conducted in a continuous stirred tanks reactor (CSTR) to simulate the real-time conditions of a leak environment. The data collected was also used to demonstrate the accuracy of the mathematical model. The leak detection system is based on steady-state conditions using the PTSA mass balance model as a reference point for any changes that might occur in the system.
The decomposition rate of PTSA was monitored through careful recordings of a fluorometer. The decay rate analysis shows a decrease in the dye concentration in water with respect to time. The MATLAB simulation curve demonstrates the logarithmic relationship per the CSTR method at 150 °C and 200 °C.
Further research and experimentation is required to understand the dynamics of these fluorescent dyes and their rate kinetics at elevated conditions to match the 10 MPa and 480 °C recovery boiler conditions. This innovative method of applying such world-class detection technology will ultimately mitigate risk by saving lives of employees in the industrial facility and facilitate the process of maximizing profit and minimizing costs associated with a shut-down in the case of a leak.
- Mars Atmospheric and Climatic Survey System by Mounika Kari, Vu Nguyen, Surjan S. Singh, and Sneha J. Vakani [View Image]
Mounika Kari, Vu Nguyen, Surjan S. Singh, and Sneha J. Vakani
Before Mars can be explored by humans, its extreme climate and environment must be investigated. This can be achieved through the deployment of weather station probes capable of measuring Martian air temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, and wind speed. The Mars Atmospheric and Climatic Survey System (MACSS) aims to collect this data, allowing predictive models of global climate patterns on Mars to be developed. These models will aid NASA in providing the needed knowledge to prepare for long-term exposure to the conditions on Mars.
The probes are compact and lightweight; they have been designed to withstand Mars’ harsh environment: extreme temperatures, statically-charged dust particles, a thin atmosphere, and intense solar radiation. Considerations of deployment were also made, with the size and weight of each probe allowing for them to be deployed as-needed and as accessories in future missions rather than simultaneously in a single mission.
With regards to components, solar panels are to supply the probes with primary power. Data would be collected by sensors and stored on a solid-state drive. A low-gain antenna would establish communication between the probes, NASA’s Deep Space Network, and Mars’ rovers and orbiters. This data can then be evaluated on Earth, allowing models of Martian climate to be formed. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of MACSS, a mockup was designed, simulating data collection in real time with Earth-equivalent components. With continued collaboration, MACSS and its probes can be further optimized for deployment to and longevity on Mars.
- Conference Registration System by Pooja Krishnan [View Image]
The main purpose of our project was the creation of a persistent conference registration management system. The Computational Complexity Foundation (CCF) is an organization aiming to foster research and education in computational complexity theory. The main activity of the organization is its annual conference, the Computational Complexity Conference (CCC). Dr. Sevag Gharibian, member of the Board of Governors for the CCF and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering Computer Science Department, wished for our team to design a user-friendly fully-integrated conference registration system for the CCC. Dr. Gharibian wanted our product to have the following functionalities: creation/management of user accounts including higher-permission admin accounts, conference registration including secure payment processing for any applicable fee(s), announcements/updates, long term data storage and statistics gathering/reporting.
In order to fulfill the above requirements, we decided to use a combination of Django for the development of the front-end and an SQL database to make up our backend and store all of the data collected. Our system takes a user through the conference registration process in an efficient manner. There are three types of users of our system. Regular users have the capability to register for our system, view conference information and register and pay for conferences they wish to attend. Administrative users have the ability to create conferences, manage conference information and download conference statistics. Site administrators have complete control over the database and complete control over all conferences in the system.
- Alternative Method for Posterior Lumbar Discectomy and Development of Associated Bench Top Test by Alfred Levinson, Parth Patel, Rahul Peddi, Sarah Peters, and Jon Willard [View Image]
Alfred Levinson, Parth Patel, Rahul Peddi, Sarah Peters, and Jon Willard
A discectomy is a common surgical procedure performed to remove the fibrous disc material between adjacent vertebrae in the spine, known as vertebral disc. Current methods and tools used in discectomies are time consuming and potentially dangerous, with opportunity for human error. There is a need for a new method of disc removal that can improve clinical results by reducing surgical times, preventing damage to surrounding anatomy, and more thoroughly removing the vertebral disc. A reduction in surgery times and increase of effective disc removal will help to increase success, recovery, and spinal fusion rates. This project aims to provide a prototype instrument and associated bench top test focused on providing a more streamlined and successful discectomy procedure from the posterior approach while mitigating the risks associated with human error. Collaboration with industry experts resulted in the modification of commonly-used pituitary rongeurs to include in-line aspiration through surgical tubing. This development improves upon the current surgical technique by eliminating the need to remove the instrument from the patient, thus reducing time requirements and preventing the need for additional training. Current discectomy methods require up to three hours for a full disc removal under optimal conditions. This method aims to reduce that requirement by approximately half. In addition, research into synthetic disc material, coupled with available 3D printing technology, has yielded a bench top test that can be used in regulatory validation and proof of concept. This test aims to recreate disc anatomy without requiring access to expensive and single-use cadavers.
- Formula SAE Intake System by Esa Mahmood, Arman Sarwar, and Michael R. Smith [View Image]
Esa Mahmood, Arman Sarwar, and Michael R. Smith
The Formula SAE Intake System is intended to optimize the airflow into a restricted 600cc engine. The intake system is designed, fabricated, and installed in accordance with the FSAE rule book with a focus on maximizing the vehicle’s acceleration. It is directly responsible for determining the drivability of the car and how much horsepower the flow restricted engine produces.
Design of the intake was conceptualized based on researching a number of factors including venturi diffusion angles, plenum volumes, and runner lengths. Initial tests were performed utilizing computational fluid dynamics for a total of 367 flow simulations and 261 running hours on various intake components in SolidWorks Flow Simulation 2016. From the beginning, it was known that the intake needed to possess certain contours that would be very difficult to create with sheet metal. It was for this reason that a composite construction was pursued for the plenum of the intake manifold, utilizing fused deposition modeling to form the mold. Flow testing and dynamometer testing will be utilized to verify the effectiveness of the design. In the end, the intake system will provide peak performance in the flow restricted system. The increased brake horsepower and improved vehicle drivability will provide a competitive advantage on any race course.
- Richmond Mural Tour by Matthew McGee and Paul McDonald [View Image]
Matthew McGee and Paul McDonald
In the past years Richmond has been growing in popularity in the world of street art. This popularity is due in part to the many projects that brought in artists from around the world to create beautiful artwork. There is so much art outside in Richmond as a result of these projects, but no great way to navigate the streets of the city in an efficient manner to see all of it. Richmond Mural Tour is a mobile cross-platform application that allows users to explore all of the amazing outdoor artwork around the city.
- Digital Analysis of Heartbeats from Remote Machines by Dewey Mitchem, Devin Dulay, and Taylor Kaplan [View Image]
Dewey Mitchem, Devin Dulay, and Taylor Kaplan
The “Bring Out Your Exceptions” project is a robust online automated data collection and aggregation utility. Specifically designed to handle application to application communication so that system health analysis can be performed easily within minutes by both trained and untrained personnel. The utility, once set-up, receives relevant data (be it crash errors or current system health) from remote systems without human interaction being required. This will allow for faster turn-around on patch development and addressing future errors without reliance on a client requesting help.
The “Bring Out Your Exceptions” project is capable of future growth that allows it to generically accept data from any system rather than the current pre-defined system and also due to its use of Kibana is extremely user-friendly for data analysis. Line graphs, pie charts, and bar charts are all easily added and configured with a few clicks of the mouse and allows for accurate and quick representation of underlying data from remote systems which helps to streamline both the development process of future solutions as well as to enrich current knowledge of ongoing issues.
- 3D Printed Sports Mouthguard by Abdullah Mohsen and Abdulrahman Alharshani [View Image]
Abdullah Mohsen and Abdulrahman Alharshani
The 3D printed sports mouthguard can be specifically designed to provide exceptional protection and comfort to athletes in any sport. The process by which an athlete undergoes for obtaining their mouthguard requires a substantial amount of time and cost. Introducing 3D printer capabilities into the dental and sporting fields would elicit faster manufacturing time with more economically priced materials.
In testing our theory, the initial components of the research consisted of scanning a dental impression cast and transferring the S.T.L. file scan onto the C.A.D. software. The next important step required us to discover which material to wire with the 3D printer so that the first figure could be presented. After the first test material was chosen, we had to manipulate the measurements so that the 3D printer could properly layer the material to form a practical design. We then had to search for materials that adhered to the A.D.A. and the F.D.A.’s requirements for safety as this product is a protective oral device.
Although we were unable to provide a fully functional 3D printed sports mouthguard example due to time constraints, we were able to provide a strong foundation for companies which would be willing to invest and apply this research.
- Venus Lander Design by Garon Morgan, Brian Rodrigues, Dhruv Sachani, and Jason Scott [View Image]
Garon Morgan, Brian Rodrigues, Dhruv Sachani, and Jason Scott
The students designed an Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) system for a lander to reach the surface of Venus. The students used a combination of 3D modelling and programming to design the EDL within given constraints under specific tolerances. An EDL takes into consideration entry flight dynamics, aeroheating, and landing systems. The EDL was divided into three stages (see below). The separation of stages was designed to address unique challenges found at different points throughout the EDL. The primary objective of the first stage was to minimize the heat associated with the entry velocity to the payload. The second stage implemented a parachute to reduce velocity such that the descent time criteria could be met. The third stage involved landing design. Through the use of six simultaneous differential equations, the flight of the vehicle was determined. The system was optimized by modifying craft parameters and initial conditions to meet objectives. After optimization, the revised values of position and velocity were obtained at every time step during descent. The vehicle velocity was used to calculate the heat rate to the heat shield of the entry vehicle. Through the use of a parachute, drag was increased to extend the time of flight and to slow the vehicle for landing. Designs were implemented to minimize impact force to the lander and maintain proper orientation during landing.
- Hazardous Waste Reduction Continuation by J. Brian Morrell, Alex Alvarez, and Adnan Qasem [View Image]
J. Brian Morrell, Alex Alvarez, and Adnan Qasem
A silicone manufacturing process yields two-phase wastewater, of which the aqueous phase flashes at 2°C primarily due to hexamethyldisiloxane (HMDSO). To be classified as non-hazardous and immediately disposable, it must flash above 60°C. Project objectives entailed identifying a method and then designing a prototype for on-site aqueous phase treatment, removing enough HMDSO for non-hazardous disposal. The previous team’s proposal was gravity separation, NaCl extraction, and feeding through an activated carbon packed bed. Extraction proved ineffective, packed bed outlet samples flashed at 52°C, and HMDSO quantification methodology was incorrect. From titration, wastewater was determined to be 3.3 ± 0.2 wt.% aqueous ammonia. This ammonia concentration was used to spike water samples prepared with variable HMDSO concentrations with the target of determining HMDSO concentrations in the treated water that would flash above 60°C. Without ammonia, 36 ppm HMDSO passed the flash point test. Adding ammonia expanded the tolerance to >50 ppm HMDSO. Waste was subjected to various treatment method combinations: adsorption on activated carbon, reaction with bleach, and semi-batch gas stripping with nitrogen in column packed with ceramic saddles. Flash point results are given below. The process very nearly satisfies the 60°C flash point goal, with some variation. To correctly quantify HMDSO, standard addition was used with GC. Consequently, the proposed treatment process is gravity phase separation, activated carbon packed bed treatment, and then semi-batch stripping with nitrogen. Recommendations for future work are to explore amendments to the proposed procedure, including time-dependent mass transfer analysis, counter-current gas stripping through a packed bed, and implementation of automated sample preparation and testing.
- Remote Aerial Mapping Spectrometer by Kenny Parker, José Ramirez, Chris Lillard, and Quan Ma [View Image]
Kenny Parker, José Ramirez, Chris Lillard, and Quan Ma
According to the EPA, harmful algal blooms may occur more frequently in coastal areas like the Chesapeake Bay due to warming waters and increased nutrient pollution. Algal blooms cause aquatic dead zones which damage the ecosystem and can produce toxins which are dangerous to animals and humans. Continual environmental monitoring is required to research algal blooms and to prevent harm to residents and industries.
We researched technologies to locate harmful algal blooms and found spectroscopic remote surveying an effective approach. A material’s wavelength-dependent reflectance reveals its material composition. Unfortunately, existing methods which can map spectral characteristics are lacking. Field researchers with handheld spectrometers may analyze nearby vegetation’s identity and health but surveying a large area is time-consuming. Alternatively, hyperspectral cameras mounted to aircraft and satellites can gather data from a wide region but are cost prohibitive for local studies and provide limited spatial resolution.
We designed a spectral mapping sensor payload for mounting on unmanned aerial vehicles. The Remote Aerial Mapping Spectrometer (RAMS) adapts to any aircraft able to carry its low weight because it is self-powered and includes all necessary sensors. It scans its surroundings with a laser rangefinder and spectrometer with a long-focus lens. RAMS monitors the orientation of its sensor package and computes a three-dimensional map of nearby material signatures.
This graphical representation of localized spectra will assist in charting harmful algal blooms but also monitor forests threatened by invasive species and provide pinpoint agricultural analytics. RAMS makes environmental data richer and more cost-effective than current techniques.
- ProAm Sports by Shruti Patel, Haseeb Niazi, and Neelam Jhurani [View Image]
Shruti Patel, Haseeb Niazi, and Neelam Jhurani
ProAm Sports takes fitness one step further by designing a tournament-based program, where members can sign up to participate in matches as individuals or teams in various sports and win actual cash prizes accumulated from a portion of their membership fees. Our project required implementing a database which stores information on players, teams, and games as well as a website that offers the ability for players to sign up, view information on events, pay for membership, and communicate with other players. There are three levels of paid membership, where each offers different benefits including discounts on event registration. After registering for an event, players can see their registration history and see which other members are registered for the same event. Members are able to interact with other players, compete with other teams, test their skills, and possibly win cash prizes. We implemented the website using Joomla and Community Builder so that the backend is menu-based instead of code-based in order to prove convenient for our sponsor. Extra functionality in the backend includes categorizing events by sport and tournament, making events repeat, and adding special discounts based on registration date. Community Builder also allows all members/players to create connections with each other and leave notes on each other’s profiles. Players are also given the capability of recording their achievements on their respective profiles for other players to view and take into consideration when recruiting for teammates.
- Automated Source-Detector Positioner for Radiation Detection by Andre Patterson, Morgan Davis, Joel Person, and Allan Roberts [View Image]
Andre Patterson, Morgan Davis, Joel Person, and Allan Roberts
The Nuclear Engineering Department at Virginia Commonwealth University has an unmet need for an automated source detector positioner for radiation detection experiments that are carried out in lab work. During radiation data collection in radiation detection systems it is of the utmost importance that radioactive samples are positioned and moved with the highest degree of precision possible. This high degree of precision allows for more meaningful data to be collected. The current methods employed by the Nuclear Engineering Department are not as accurate as they can be due to the fact the the current detection systems are manual. Furthermore they are aligned only by sight and have fixed shelving positions. The figure below is the solution to this issue: An automated Source-Detector Positioner for Radiation Detection. This detection system has been design to have a low tolerance so that radiation samples are always centered in the “Sample holder/clamp” over the radiation detector probe. Two stepper motors move along rods, lifting or lowering the sample holder to the desired position over the radiation detection probe. There is also an optional shielding component for the limitation of radiation emission that improves on the shelving method from previous devices. This is all supported with 3D printed rings and metal rods.
- Company Health Dashboard by Zachary Raney and Ahmad Shahir Abdul Satar [View Image]
Zachary Raney and Ahmad Shahir Abdul Satar
Company Health Dashboard is a web application that serves as a tool to display information in dynamic grid-like modules. This application displays viewer-friendly information on the televisions around the company office using Raspberry Pi devices. In order to benefit different types of users, the application divides the screen into multiple customizable modules, with each module representing different information. Company employees, for example, can view information about company news, upcoming events, or even what’s on tap for that day. Visitors or clients, on the other hand, can see information about the company while waiting for their meeting.
The design of the dashboard is made to the company’s own liking, having a centralized manager page that can customize each module type, name, title, description and background image. The manager has the ability to handle multiple screens, the admin can add multiple screen layouts and assign those layouts to specific televisions around the office. This lets the company have different screens for different floors or rooms depending on their use. This application has a lot of room for customization and will allow employees and visitors to understand the company’s overall status.
- DroidNet: An Android Application Security Framework through Crowdsourcing by Pulkit Rustgi, Bilal Ahmed, and Mansi Shah [View Image]
Pulkit Rustgi, Bilal Ahmed, and Mansi Shah
In the current Android architecture, users have to decide whether an app is safe to use or not by themselves. Savvy users can make correct decisions to avoid unnecessary privacy breaches, however most users are not capable or do not care to make impactful decisions. To assist those users, we propose DroidNet, an Android permission control framework based on crowdsourcing. In this framework, DroidNet runs new apps and their permissions initially, and then collects data based on each individual user’s settings in regards to each permission unique to every installed app. After collecting each user’s data, DroidNet provides recommendations on whether to accept or reject the permission requests based on decisions from peer expert users.
To seek expert users, we utilize an expertise ranking algorithm using a transitional Bayesian inference model. The recommendation, respective to each application permission, is based on the aggregated expert responses and our generated confidence level, which are collectively stored and sorted in our DroidNet database. The overall culmination of the model resulted in the creation of a real-time Android application which utilizes our Bayesian inference model and aggregate data from each individual user, all of which is connected to our DroidNet database.
- Real-time Face Recognition Drone Surveillance System by Jacob Segal, Asa Kaplan, and Christopher Butler [View Image]
Jacob Segal, Asa Kaplan, and Christopher Butler
Drones are becoming more relevant and could potentially become a part of everyday life. From Amazon delivering packages to light displays used in the Super Bowl half-time show, drones are taking the place of people and inefficient systems. They are being used by military forces for scouting and relaying information from a distance, and by normal people every day to get an aerial view of a park or just for the entertainment of flying. This project develops a system for identifying and recognizing faces in real-time using a drone, specifically a Parrot ‘Bebop’, which is flying autonomously. The drone company, Parrot, provides an API for independent development that we used to program an automated flight pattern and to reformat the video for optimal face recognition. The video stream is sent from the drone via its personal WIFI hotspot to the GPU server to handle the computationally expensive power required by face recognition algorithms. The video is then displayed to the user monitor and an easy-to-use interface is provided for users to add people to the recognized face database. Our final product has the potential to act as “eye in the sky” for security in crowded areas and can eliminate human error in tense life-threatening police and military situations.
- Martin Agency Freelancer Onboarding by Brian Simoni, Christopher Calhoun, and Perry Stephenson [View Image]
Brian Simoni, Christopher Calhoun, and Perry Stephenson
Onboarding new employees is a necessary but often a lengthy process at any company, but it can be especially challenging for companies like The Martin Agency. An advertising firm based in Richmond, Virginia. The nature of their work channels the need for many of their employees to be freelancers or short term contractors. At the time the project began, the process to request a new freelancer would start as a paper form submitted by a department supervisor. It would then require approval from members of different departments within agency, and the data had to be converted into an electronic form to interface with systems like payroll and Active Directory. Freelancers would sometimes complete their jobs before the onboarding process was ever completed.
Our solution was to design a responsive web application that provided a familiar experience to filling out the paper form, but automatically interfaced with different systems within The Martin Agency. The agencies’ developers used mostly Microsoft technologies, so to make it as easy as possible to integrate into their current environment and transfer ownership, our application used much of the same technologies. It consisted of Microsoft’s .NET 4.5 and MVC framework, Windows, IIS, and SQL Server. The application would automatically populate form dropdowns from their Media Ocean data provider. The form submissions would then create a database entry, and post a new freelancer request to WorkFront – their workflow management software. The end result was a well-documented functional application that was deployed to The Martin Agency’s development environment.
- Method and Apparatus for Removal of Phosphate from Wastewater Streams by Steven Skeels, Arjun Subedi, and Fred Williams [View Image]
Steven Skeels, Arjun Subedi, and Fred Williams
Church and Dwight uses a phosphate-containing soap in their latex condom manufacturing process in Chesterfield County, VA. The wastewater streams from this process contain a concentration of phosphate that is over the county limit, costing $100,000/yr for non-optimized disposal. C&D has a need for an in-house method of phosphate removal which does not interfere with current manufacturing or wastewater treatment processes. The focus of the project was precipitation methodology as it is the most economically feasible option for these high concentrations of phosphate; more advanced technologies were considered for a potential final polishing step to remove any residual phosphate. The chemistry for the proposed process was developed by Design of Experiment, utilizing multiple independent and dependent variables. Once optimized, pilot trials were performed in order to verify the lab-scale chemistry. The proposed method of phosphate treatment requires a pH adjustment of the wastewater via sulfuric acid, followed by chemical precipitation via PC-1101 (proprietary coagulant). This solid precipitate is then to be collected utilizing a filter press. Optimal laboratory trials consistently reduced the phosphate concentration by >95%, from 2000-3000 ppm (as Phosphorus) to a nominal 50 ppm (as P). This method will reduce the cost of phosphate treatment by about 40%, with room to further reduce cost via long-term optimization of the pH and coagulant ratio.
- Foodi - Automated Ordering System by Zachary Stone, Daniel Evans, and Kevin Bierlein [View Image]
Zachary Stone, Daniel Evans, and Kevin Bierlein
We worked for BeSprout Technology to create an automated ordering system called Foodi. The Foodi system uses a combination of Java, IBM Watson, and MySQL to gather all the necessary information needed for the conversation, and is dynamic so it can be used in multiple restaurants. Many people still place orders via a phone call, so in an effort to streamline the ordering process, this project was created to enable automatic order placing so employees can focus on other tasks within the restaurant.
When a customer calls a restaurant, Foodi will take care of any orders and answer questions the customer may have. The input from the user is sent to Watson, and is filtered through a conversation tree created with IBM’s Bluemix. Bluemix uses the user input to navigate to certain nodes. When a node in the conversation tree is hit, the user input is passed into Java code and parsed appropriately. After the input has been parsed in Java, Watson is told which node in the conversation tree to travel to next and how to respond to the user. This process is repeated until the user is finished ordering and the final order is repeated back to the customer. The restaurant receives the final order and begins preparing the food.
- Optically Transparent Antennas and Filters by Ranjita Timsina, Joshua Pitchford, Michelle Guzman, and Supapon Hia [View Image]
Ranjita Timsina, Joshua Pitchford, Michelle Guzman, and Supapon Hia
As society continues to increase its demand for wireless network access, more antennas, base stations, and network access points is a must. By integrating these antennas into existing infrastructure, such as buildings, cars, and street lights, network engineers can begin to meet these demands. In order to integrate antennas into windows, optical transparency is paramount. Optically transparent antennas are currently created through materials known as Transparent Conductive Oxides (TCOs). TCOs are doped metal oxides that have high optical transmittance and low electrical resistivity. TCOs are employed in flat panel displays, touch sensitive control panels, and electromagnetic shielding windows. The most popular material in use, is called Indium Tin Oxide (ITO). ITO however, is becoming expensive to extract, and from mass production, it is becoming scarce. Therefore, an alternative to ITO is needed. Gallium Zinc Oxide (GZO) is an optimal substitute for ITO because it is in the same element group and has comparable conductivity/resistivity values. We have successfully fabricated an optically transparent antenna resonating at 2.4 GHz (Wi-Fi) and two transparent frequency selective surfaces at 27.5 GHz (proposed 5G). Optically transparent antennas allows a promising future in wireless technology such as smart windows, eyeglass telemetry, and even transparent RFID tags.
- Gyrus Higher Learning Management System by Nicholas Turnquist, Bailey Kingsley, and Ryan Schnarre [View Image]
Nicholas Turnquist, Bailey Kingsley, and Ryan Schnarre
Our project was to develop a prototype learning management system for use of higher education for our sponsor, Gyrus Systems. This consisted of creating a MySQL relational database to store user and class information, to design and code a user interface that emphasized user experience, and to implement functionalities for each user role.
Early in the design phase we outlined which features were must haves, in order to demonstrate an adequate prototype, and had this list approved by our sponsor. They were then divided into two roles. The role of “student” has the ability to submit assignments, get information from their instructor, and receive and review grades for submitted assignments. The role of “professor” has the ability to post assignments, receive and grade student submissions, send their students information about the class, and post materials for the students to review.
The application is hosted on a shared web server and the work was done through a cPanel Portal. The UI is constructed with a custom bootstrap and our functional code is in jQuery. Transactions between our front-end and the MySQL database are handled in PHP.
Our final product is a functional web-application that accommodates the must haves outlined in our original design. The main pages are the page for class information, the page for viewing grades, the page for viewing announcements, and the dashboard containing quick information. The pages are designed for the fulfillment of the different roles’ unique needs.
- Collision Avoidance for Quadcopters by Andrew Ward, Brad Clifford, Shane Gifford, and Thomas White [View Image]
Andrew Ward, Brad Clifford, Shane Gifford, and Thomas White
The purpose of our project is to design and implement an obstacle detection and avoidance system for use on multirotor drones. The system gathers information from two Arducam 5MP cameras, using stereoscopic vision as the primary obstacle detection source. It also uses an XL-MaxSonar-EZ3 ultrasonic sensor as a backup, in case the cameras fail to detect an obstacle. All three of these sensors will be mounted to the drone using a 3D printed mounting bracket, to ensure consistency of sensor information. The system will interface with the Naza-M v2 flight controller, overriding the user controls when the user attempts to steer the drone forward into an obstacle. At the same time, the system will light an LED to inform the user of the control override.
The Zybo Zynq-7000 development board is the main processing system used in our project. We utilize the System-on-a-Chip (SoC) development scheme offered by this board, simultaneously developing software for the ARM-9 processor and hardware to implement on the FPGA fabric.
The Capstone Design course at the College of Engineering of Virginia Commonwealth University is meant to be the climax of every engineering student’s undergraduate education. As a prerequisite to attaining a Bachelor’s degree, the Capstone Design course presents each student with the challenge of working in a team to tackle actual engineering problems within and across the fields of Chemical and Life Science, Mechanical and Nuclear, Biomedical, Electrical, and Computer Engineering and Science. At the end of the two semester course in April, the student teams present their work to the sponsors, faculty, students, invited guests and the general public at the Capstone Design Expo, held at the Virginia Science Center in Richmond.
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