- Tracking Surgical Instruments by Akia Wells, Samuel Samvura, and Brandon Santiago [View Image]
Akia Wells, Samuel Samvura, and Brandon Santiago
Surgical instruments and sponges are mistakenly left inside patients for more than a dozen times a day. Hospitalizations involving a lost instrument or sponge can average costing more than $60,000 for a hospital. The objective of this design project is to develop a simple, innovative tracking flow process that will better keep track of surgical instruments and sponges before and after surgeries. Using high temperature stickers with matrix barcode technology attached to the surgical instruments, the instruments will be easily scanned into a database to track when instruments are checked in and checked out. Before all instruments are used and returned to the surgical tray, the total weight of all instruments will be acquired using a weighing scale to additionally verify all instruments are present and have been returned. Limitations against the design include portability, cost efficiency, and time efficiency. The design must also sustain high temperature sterilization and be transferrable to multiple types of surgery. The complexity to track surgical sponges more easily poses a remaining issue that must be solved. The flow process will decrease the amount of misplaced surgical instruments, saving hospitals more money. It will also decrease the amount of time wasted between surgery completion and sterilization.
- iMiR: Identifying miRNA Regulation in Diseases: Bioinformatics Tool by Jeremy Yu, Bolade Ottola, and Theo Contes [View Image]
Jeremy Yu, Bolade Ottola, and Theo Contes
- Prediction Device to Reduce Falls in the Elderly by Keegan Zacharie, Aaron Corbin, and Joseph Switzer [View Image]
Keegan Zacharie, Aaron Corbin, and Joseph Switzer
Complications arising from accidental falls are one of the leading causes of death among the elderly, with over 25,000 fatalities annually in the U.S.; a third of the elder population falls each year and a fifth of falls cause serious injury. We intended to mitigate these risks by producing a device capable of anticipating falls using biostatistical data.
Deliverables for our design included: An integrated accelerometer and pulse monitor to assess changes in motion and the physiological state of the wearer, a programmed algorithm capable of processing this data, and a mount to attach components to the patient.
Our constraints included a lack of microelectronic components, advanced electrical engineering skills, and access to the elderly for testing purposes.
To build our device, we performed fact-finding at the Dominion Senior Living Center to observe potential users. Our findings emphasized the need to produce a small device with easily-integrated components and a WiFi shield to wirelessly transmit the data to network. We focused on trying to get usable readings from our device and improving functionality.
While we achieved our deliverables, refinement would be needed to move into further stages of development. Further reducing device size, improving wireless capability, adding pulse oximetry, combining measured with static data, and gaining IRB approval would aid in this pursuit.
Despite these limitations, this project represents the first step toward the development of a research-ready device and eventually a consumer model, serving the needs of an aging population and improving late quality of life.
- Church Hill Activities & Tutoring by Dhundi Acharya, Dhruvil Shah, and Michael McAlexander [View Image]
Dhundi Acharya, Dhruvil Shah, and Michael McAlexander
Problem Statement: Church Hill Activities and Tutoring ( CHAT ), a non-profit organization which invests in the lives of Richmond’s most at-risk children by establishing strong connections through one-on one tutoring, mentorship, and enrichment activities , is facing difficulty in managing consistent communication with parents and volunteers. Each of these audiences requires different channels and information, and currently, sending paper to the home through students has become the primary channel for communicating with parents. The reliability of this practice is limited but continues because parents’ contact information, such as phone number or email, changes frequently.
Rationale: Since CHAT is facing difficulties in communicating with parents and volunteers, we as a team are creating a mobile solution to share important and timely information with parents and volunteers. Users will receive notifications and regular updates to schedules and announcements. Users will also be able to update their contact information directly through the app so that the CHAT staff does not have difficulties reaching them.
Approach: We divided the application in to three groups, students, parents and volunteers. Student page will contain the announcements or schedule relating to student events, parent’s page will contain the announcements, an option to change/update their contact information, and an option to submit questions/suggestions to CHAT, and finally the volunteer’s page will contain the same thing as the parent’s page except it will have its own announcements.
Interim Results and Conclusions: For this semester, we are tackling an android application, and so far we have designed a layout for the app. We have also designed a SQL database to store student’s, parent’s and volunteer’s information.
Anticipated Results and Conclusions: By the end of the next semester, we will have completed both the Android and IOS application, and hope to have it available for download for android and IOS users.
- Main Body Aerodynamics by Michael Al-Badini, Christopher Buettner, Wesley Russell, Steven Summerville, and Marcus Wardlow [View Image]
Michael Al-Badini, Christopher Buettner, Wesley Russell, Steven Summerville, and Marcus Wardlow
Our senior design project entails designing, analyzing the front upper aerodynamic nose for the Formula SAE at VCU’s race team. Currently there are no provisions on the chassis to provide relief for parasitic loss of speed & efficiency due to drag. Since Formula SAE is focused on building a engineered, safe, and efficient vehicle our aerodynamic design will help with handling, downforce, and fuel economy all while reducing drag. Our Aerodynamic design will play a key role not only in how the Formula car is perceived aesthetically, but our calculations will be a large determining factor in the cars overall final performance.
Our group started the project by initially consulting texts to better grasp knowledge on aerodynamic systems and their role in contributing to an efficient vehicle. With our research we were able to come up with numerous design considerations and gained more insight into how aerodynamics systems are analyzed. Once we conducted our background research we made some rough sketches of what we wanted the aero to look like. With these 2-D drawings we gathered equations necessary to calculate the drag coefficient and conducted a theoretical analysis of our 2D version to compare to our 3D calculations that will be solved using ANSYS. Our research showed us that the tear drop is generally thought to be the best shape so we based our drawings off of that consideration. Once we had a rough sketch, we started modeling the aero using an existing drawing of the chassis in Solidworks. At this stage we created a few different types of models so that in the future we would be able to quickly differentiate the aspects of our drawings that reduced the coefficient of drag.
Moving forward with the project we expect to encounter many other problems associated with our design and analysis. However our aim is to narrow down our 3D designs and consider the aspects that reduced drag. This will allow us to come up with a further refined result. Once our data is analyzed we can conduct a comparison of our initial designs versus our final product and gain understanding as to what is needed to quickly and efficiently design aero in the future. This project will entail engineering through hand calculations, designing for real world problems using surface models in solidworks, and performing an analysis using the finite element method & computational fluid dynamics.
- Small Scale Wide Band Radio Frequency Spectrum Analyzer by Ali Aldajaei, Ryan Littleton, and Matthew Thomas [View Image]
Ali Aldajaei, Ryan Littleton, and Matthew Thomas
The project being proposed has to deal the processing and identification of radio frequencies. As more and more frequencies are being used on the radio spectrum, noise and interference have become a problem. Currently spectrum analyzers can be used to identify this noise and interference but they require manpower and specialized equipment. Our project will focus on automating the process of analyzing multiple frequencies and identifying signals from interference. This will be done by first taking an input from a radio antenna to acquire radio signals at various frequencies and storing the values. These values will then be analyzed to remove noise and identify unique signals. Then finally, based on where in the spectrum these signals are located, the signals will be identified based on Federal Communications Commission regulations. The ability of analyzing a large array of radio signals allows for faster, and more reliable communication. In a high density area, it becomes very difficult to identify an unused radio frequency. By knowing which range of signals are being used, and which range is not being used, one can start a communications protocol based on that information. Due to the large amount of radio frequencies that are allocated for use, our project will focus on a reduced version of the radio spectrum. In doing so, we are able to have clearer results, and we will become able to be very accurate.
- Effluent Treatment and Recovery of Polyether Using Nanoporous Technology by Suhaib Alramamneh, Zachary Turner, and Allison Warth [View Image]
Suhaib Alramamneh, Zachary Turner, and Allison Warth
This semester Evonik Industries, a specialty chemical producer located in Hopewell, Virginia, approached VCU’s Chemical Engineering department with a project that would reduce their costs and increase process sustainability. The project is to determine a way to separate their liquid organic product from their waste stream in order to recycle the lost product. Liquid-Liquid extraction is a procedure used across most of the chemical industry. Proven separation techniques already exist for the standard liquid-liquid separation; however, when one liquid is miscible in the other the difficulty of separation is greatly increased. In order to do a liquid-liquid separation of an organic liquid in water at a large scale at an advantageous cost, a new technique must be implemented. This project would be well suited for students with the knowledge gained over three years in Chemical Engineering.
Implementing a method using a hydrophilic nano-porous membrane to separate organic material from water using a pressure gradient will require experimental analysis of the compounds initially. Our team will perform testing on several organic molecules in order to determine the polymer’s hydrodynamic radius. This allows the team to determine the appropriate material and porosity needed for our proposed porous material. The addition of a cosurfactant is also recommended in order to create micelles, which would increase the size of the product being collected. These procedures will be carried out on a bench scale and later scaled up to determine the solution’s feasibility in Evonik’s Hopewell facility.
Currently, flash distillation is the primary technique of liquid-liquid separation of miscible liquids, but in a large process this would become very costly and energy consuming. The solution to this project can become very cost effective and would not require much, if any, energy input to work. The proposed solution to this problem could be used worldwide in order to further purify products, increase product yield, as well as to drive down costs production costs from recycling.
- Grid Game: Developing a Java/Android version for increased accessibility and usability by Sean Amos, Patrick Sivils, and Aidan Collins [View Image]
Sean Amos, Patrick Sivils, and Aidan Collins
Objective: Idaho University has implemented a power grid simulator game as a teaching aid for students enrolled in their Resilient Control Systems course. The game was created in LabView and requires the user to download the LabView client, as well as install the Grid Game on their machine in order to play. Our goal is to recreate the Grid Game in a Java based web-browser format so that the game is more accessible and easy to use. By recreating the Grid Game in a format that can be played in browser, other universities, companies, and individuals will easily be able to coordinate lessons and competitions, or just learn how control systems work, quickly and easily without too much overhead. Also, since Java is a more popular format than LabView, there will be more opportunity for others to expand and improve upon our design.
Approach: At the beginning of the project, we mainly focused on the physics behind the game rather than the playability aspect. Since none of our team members had any experience with grid architecture, most of our design method involved us meeting and talking our way through the equations needed to get the background physics to work. Once we had a grasp on the physics, we divided up work amongst ourselves, adding more functionality as we progressed.
Interim Results: As of the end of the first semester, we fully implemented and tested, using an INL dataset provided by Mr. McJunkin, the Swing equation. We then added power storage functionality and generator control in order to allow the user to balance the Swing equation via a basic UI. Some other “game” aspects were included to flesh out the prototype a little more, including a basic scoring system and the ability to buy more generators.
Anticipated Results: Next semester we plan on creating a more involved scoring system, connecting to an INL server to pull data and communicate and compete with other players, and improve upon our UI design. There has also been some interest in porting the game to an Android mobile platform, which we believe will be fairly simple to do.
- The Superhydrophobic Boat by Cole Anton, Edin Avdic, Aneesh Sandhir, and Tyler Zheng [View Image]
Cole Anton, Edin Avdic, Aneesh Sandhir, and Tyler Zheng
The purpose of this project is to successfully design and construct a boat hull while minimizing the amount of solid material in contact with the water. If successful, this experiment could serve as a first step in designing more efficient vessels through the reduction of the water drag force on the object. The approach to this project involved determining the optimal wire mesh and coating combination for the boat hull using both computational methods and experiment.
- Lower Body Exoskeleton Powered by Epidermal Electronics Systems by Francis Azari, Forrest Baber, Saswat Mishra, Karan Patel, and Juan Soto [View Image]
Francis Azari, Forrest Baber, Saswat Mishra, Karan Patel, and Juan Soto
The purpose of our design revolves around the concept of enhancing the human body through the use of a lower body exoskeleton. The most applicable demographics for our design consists of paraplegics and non-paraplegics. The various uses we hope to include would allow the user to: walk again, lift heavier loads with the ability to move forward, back and be seated. Although lower body exoskeletons already exist on the market, they still have shortcomings that prevent widespread use among the general public. Our hope is to improve upon the design of existing exoskeletons with the integration of epidermal electronic systems (EES) with a hydraulic systems; allowing more functionality with less human metabolic consumption. We want the system to do most of the work for the user; to further our vision of minimalistic effort. The system will function by utilizing skin surface electromyogram signals (EMG); sent by muscles in the forearms. The signals will be picked up by the epidermal attachments transmitting them wirelessly to a microcontroller, activating the exoskeleton motion. A rigid, yet flexible frame will support the hydraulic systems and electronic components. One to two hydraulic pumps will be needed for three cylinders. One hydraulic cylinder, per leg, will be attached from the hamstring to the calf muscle. The third will be located at the hip, lifting the leg close to a ninety degree angle.
The process for completing the lower body exoskeleton is split into three components: the hydraulic system, the electronic components, and the EES “tattoo.” The first step involves creating a CAD design of the frame and hydraulics. Francis Azari will be welding together the frame and attaching the cylinders to these frame at a machine shop with the assistance of Forrest Baber and Karan Patel. Saswat Mishra and Juan Soto will work together to program the Arduino Microcontroller and wire it to calibrate the hydraulic cylinders. Lastly, the EES “tattoo” will be fabricated by Saswat and Karan, using UV-Lithography in the VCU clean room.
Our method of achieving our goal consists of splitting up into smaller groups; allowing us to complete work more efficiently. In order to allow ample time to complete the frame of the exoskeleton, the mechanical and electrical work has been split into the fall and spring semesters, respectively. By late December, we want the frame and hydraulic system to be completed so that we may begin coding and fabricating the EES in January. If all minimum goals can be completed early, we hope to include more features that will enhance the functionality of the suit.
- Automated Magnetic Field Scanning System by George Bakirtzis, Tim Owen, and Tara Powell [View Image]
George Bakirtzis, Tim Owen, and Tara Powell
One of Jefferson Laboratory’s research areas is in Superconducting Radio Frequency (SRF) science and technology. SRF cavities are tested in the Vertical Testing Area (VTA) at Jefferson Laboratory, within a series of large cylindrical dewars. The measured quality factor (Q factor) of the SRF cavity is directly influenced by any existing magnetic field. Because the VTA previously housed a cyclotron, all the rebars within the building have residual magnetic fields emanating from them. This magnetic field effect of the building renders the measurements of Q factor on the devices inaccurate and the testing data unreliable. A magnetic field scanning system must be employed to accurately map the magnetic field within the testing dewar so that an existing set of current-carrying coils installed around the dewar can be used properly for cancellation of the residual magnetic fields. This process will ensure the initial testing conditions are free of any unwanted magnetic fields that could cause unreliable testing data.
The proposed system will scan the residual magnetic field inside vertical dewars of varying sizes (16”- 34” diameter by 72”- 132” depth) in three dimensions and log data for later use, as well as display a visual mapping of the data to the operator through LabView. A sensor with a sensitivity of at least 0.1 milligauss will be attached to the bottom of a long pole that will be lowered into the dewar. Translation in the z direction, on the dewar’s central axis, will be achieved by using a pair of stepper motors controlling a rack and pinion set up on the center pole. To achieve incremental mapping in the x-y plane, an arm will be attached to the bottom of the pole that will house additional sensors. The platform holding the stepper motors will turn on a dial with degree measurements, allowing for rotational movement of the entire center pole and arm. By calculating the x-y values for each sensor on the arm at that set degree amount, mapping of set increments in the x-y plane can be achieved.
- Visualization of NLP Extractions by K. Barbour, D. Vieth, and D. Warraich [View Image]
K. Barbour, D. Vieth, and D. Warraich
The goal of this project is to design a visualization system for information extracted from large amounts of unstructured text. The importance of the project is for the system to display information in a more informative way than simple highlighting of the raw text. The data is obtained from a program that scans multiple files for entities and extracts the information in said files pertaining to those entities. The entities that the program scans for includes people, organizations, locations, dates, incidents and any relative key words. The information is extracted and stored in JSON files, specifically in a format that can be recognized by the visualization tool. The tool used is Exhibit 3.0 by Simile Widgets and is shown below, Figure 1 displaying the map and Figure 2 comparing the points. Exhibits displays the inputted data out on a map, using plots to show which locations had more frequent occurrences. The anticipated results are that the visualization system allows researchers to better understand the information being returned.
- Mobile CRM Integration Using AMC Technology APIs by Matthew Bates, Allen Calderwood, and Matthew Jenkins [View Image]
Matthew Bates, Allen Calderwood, and Matthew Jenkins
The problem our project solves is the feasibility of use of Salesforce, MSCRM and many other CRM technologies outside of the desk environment. When a user is away from their desk, they are unable to easily use these CRM technologies and our project solves that problem through the use of a Mobile Application that communicates with a desired CRM technology and deliver the desired information to an Android Smart-Watch. Regardless of what a company may do, efficiency is important. Through the use of our Mobile Application, companies that use CRM technologies such as Salesforce are able to further enhance their efficiency, especially when away from the desk environment. There are clear advantages to having a more efficient work force, so the impact of our application is clear as well as it aims to improve efficiency. For this project we used an Agile development approach. We viewed the project as three parts that could all be worked on separately and then implemented together after completion of each. This allowed for very rapid development and, as a result, the project was finished quickly. We felt that our project was highly successful and an excellent product worthy of recognition. We’re excited to see what more we can do with it in the following semester and excited to learn what AMC Technology will do with our project after we graduate.
- Vertical Tank Inspection Device by Tyriek Bayne, Sarah Morgan, Donald Reid, and Charles Stacy [View Image]
Tyriek Bayne, Sarah Morgan, Donald Reid, and Charles Stacy
Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) has requested a design for a telescoping arm able to carry out vertical tank inspection aboard ships. This device will play a key role in saving time and money, as well as potentially decreasing health and safety risks. The current system is both time consuming and limited to incremental positioning. A new system will permit inspectors to spend less time and effort at this portion of the tank and possibly complete their task much sooner. Based on design criteria given by Newport News Shipbuilding, a telescoping mechanism will be designed to lower a camera 18 ft. into a tank to perform the inspection. There are five vertical access holes that the camera inspection system will need to be lowered into in order to inspect the tank and its various components. The device will allow for a stable inspection as it traverses throughout the tank. It will be able to raise and lower the camera at any moment along the path. The device will be able to support a camera up to 15 lbs.; while the system itself will weigh less than 50 lbs., allowing it to be carried easily by two people. It will also be able to fit through a doorway 2.5ft. wide and 5ft. tall. The parts used to build the new device will be both easy to replace and manufacture. By replacing the current system, the physical effort workers have to tolerate will decrease significantly and the inspection process will be considerably safer for the inspector.
- Toy for Preschoolers with Deaf-Blindness by Allison R. Beckmann, Chelsea B. Gebs, and Julia-Grace Polich [View Image]
Allison R. Beckmann, Chelsea B. Gebs, and Julia-Grace Polich
There are approximately 70,000-100,000 people living in America that are diagnosed as deaf-blind. Since children with deaf-blindness are an extreme minority in the US, research, toys and technological advancements for these children get overlooked. As a result, the developmental processes of children with deaf-blindness are delayed by several years, compared to normal children, due to the lack of resources available to encourage learning. According to Virginia’s Department of Education standards of learning for preschoolers, development physically, mathematically,of environmental awareness and of a sense of self are core requirements for Kindergarten. Therefore, there is a need for a toy that will provide stimulation to develop physical, social, and cognitive progression to keep children with deaf-blindness on a normal learning curve.
Our design consists of components each of which stimulate one of the development goals. The first component is a chair that promotes proper posture. The second component is a colored and vibrating drum game to stimulate mathematical development through pattern recognition. The third component is a Braille exposure game to stimulate literacy development, by associating a Braille word with an object or concept. The fourth component is an apparatus that can be placed over the chair that contains dangling objects where the child can reach out to explore their surrounding environment. Under the supervision and interaction of a parent/guardian, the child will develop socially through human interaction and feedback suggested in the provided instruction manual.
Our team has been conducting research online and consulting professionals that have worked, or are currently working, in the deaf-blind field; therefore we gathered information on how children with deaf-blindness typically react to certain stimuli and various developmental concerns, to aid with the design of the toy components. With this foundation, our group drafted a variety of design concepts. We weighed out the positives, negatives, and overall efficiency of each concept which lead us to produce our final design. Then we presented our final design to our faculty advisor, perfect our idea and move forward with materials selection. Our next step in the design process is to test the efficiency of different materials and methods that we selected for the stimulatory components through experimentation and computation of engineering principles behind the design. Unfortunately our group encountered a problem in the design process, we are behind in the construction of the chair components due to the amount of time it took to complete the machine shop class. Once our testing is completed, we will begin to construct and complete the full prototype of our product.
- Tapered Roller Bearing Accelerated Fatigue Life Test Rig Design by Hilton Bennett, Elizabeth Englert, Beck Grimm, Nathan Morris, Matthew Ofsonka, and David Trinh [View Image]
Hilton Bennett, Elizabeth Englert, Beck Grimm, Nathan Morris, Matthew Ofsonka, and David Trinh
Fatigue life testing of large tapered roller bearings for railroad applications is both expensive and time consuming. Accepted methods for testing bearings include full–size and scaled down testing. Currently, bearing test methods at Brenco take up to six months to complete, and scaled down testing requires additional resources for manufacturing prototypes and testing capabilities that are not economically ideal. The purpose of this project is the development of a tapered roller bearing test rig to test bearings to their fatigue life as quickly as possible. The rig design can accommodate bearing sizes in the range of one half (½) to a maximum of four (4) Class K, 6 ½ x 9 inch double row tapered roller bearings in line with an axial load. This Senior Design team developed an accelerated life test rig capable of testing up to four (4) full size bearings, which will cut the current analysis time in half. The development of this rig will allow Brenco to perform more efficient and effective testing of bearing life, which in turn will enhance research methods for determining better quality materials and suppliers.
- A Treatment for Menorrhagia and Irregular Menstruation: Free Flowing Cryo-fluid Endometrial Ablation by Julia Biddle, Hubertina Rose Tolpa, and Krystal Zentgraf [View Image]
A Treatment for Menorrhagia and Irregular Menstruation: Free Flowing Cryo-fluid Endometrial Ablation
Julia Biddle, Hubertina Rose Tolpa, and Krystal Zentgraf
Menorrhagia (abnormally heavy and prolonged menstrual period) is a condition suffered by many women; these women have menstrual flow greater than 80 mL per cycle compared to the average 30 mL for normal cycles. The area of the uterus responsible for menorrhagia is the regenerative basal layer of the endometrium (inner uterine layer). In order to relieve menorrhagia, the endometrium needs to be destroyed through the basal layer. This project looks to address issues which patients face with current standard menorrhagia treatments, such as invasiveness, intense pain, or incomplete treatment of the uterine wall, by developing a superior remedy.
The plan is to develop a free flowing cryo-fluid treatment technology to selectively freeze and destroy the endometrium down to the basal layer. A key driver of a cryo-based system is that the anesthetic properties of cold should make the treatment less painful than currently practiced thermal ablations and reduce the need for radical hysterectomy as a menorrhagia treatment.
The approach to complete the design is a multi-step process beginning with identification of a model system to represent the female uterus. The design team is working with OB/GYN staff at the VCU Medical Center to mold a model out of Perma-Gel, a synthetic ballistics gel, which will represent the smooth muscle wall of the uterus. The cryogenic fluid will be circulated inside our model, while monitoring temperatures of various locations inside the uterus and at different penetration depths and flow rates inside the model. These are the process variables required to be known for an accurate estimate of cell death in the system.
The end goal is a proof of the concept using a model system that will lead to further research and exploration into a cost efficient, relatively painless procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office rather than a hospital/surgical setting.
- Predator-prey game to maintain stable fish population for Ecotoxicological studies by Jason Blondin, Catherine Halpern, and Tyler Malkus [View Image]
Jason Blondin, Catherine Halpern, and Tyler Malkus
With the state of the environment on the forefront of many minds today, it’s important for our society to be able to understand how we interact with our local ecosystems and the potential impacts we can cause. Creating computational simulations of these environments can help to predict the possible effects of different situations. The purpose of our project was to create a predator-prey simulation of different species of fish that could take into account different population management strategies and accurately reflect the waves that could be caused by the introduction of various chemicals into the fish’s environment.
In order to create the model of this aquatic ecosystem, our team started with the framework of NetLogo, an agent-based simulation framework and modeling environment. This framework was used to create a prototype that would reflect the behaviors of fathead minnows and small mouth bass living together in a closed ecosystem, based on research done by the team to determine actual behaviors of these fish. In the model, the user can adjust the number of fish present at the start of the session, to try to create a balanced population that will maintain itself. The simulation also allows for the user to input chemicals into the water, and reflects how this would impact fish populations by changing reproductive rates, and other factors.
We hope to improve our model to provide a platform that allows for more user interaction and a more engaging experience. In order to do so, we plan to add further population management strategies, such as placing food sources in ideal locations that will encourage a dwindling group of prey fish to move away from clusters of predators, or away from an area that has been polluted. We also plan to further refine the underlying algorithms that control agent movement, feeding, and reproduction, to make the simulation as accurate as possible. Potentially, a more polished graphical user interface will be developed to further the user’s experience.
- RecDroid: a resource access permission control portal and recommendation service for smartphone users by Gerrit Bond, Steven Jackson, and Marcus Pare [View Image]
RecDroid: a resource access permission control portal and recommendation service for smartphone users
Gerrit Bond, Steven Jackson, and Marcus Pare
The rapid growth of the smartphone applications market raises security concerns regarding untrusted applications. Studies have shown that most apps in markets request to collect data irrelevant to the main functions of the apps. Traditional Android permission control design based on one-time decisions on installation has been proven to be ineffective in protecting users’ privacy and poorly utilizes scarce mobile resources (e.g. battery). RecDroid is designed to help protect user data in a market where unauthorized data collection is prevalent in most applications. With RecDroid’s recommendation feature, which is based on expert analysis, the user will be able to avoid unnecessary privacy breach while retaining safe functionalities of many third party applications. RecDroid’s implementation consists of three distinct components: Application, OS modifications, and Recommendation Server. Firstly, RecDroid is exposed to the user as an application that allows them to manage permissions for installed applications and provides recommended permissions for new installations. In order to accomplish this, the Android OS needed to be modified to add two key functions to make our application work: editing the PackageManager class to handle user set permissions and to add a probation installation setting to let RecDroid know what applications to monitor. The last core component required for the RecDroid application is a server that collects participating users’ decisions sent by the application, makes recommendations based on stored decisions, and provides recommendations to the application. When RecDroid is fully implemented and has a sufficient user base, we expect to have a fully functional application that can effectively protect user data from dishonest applications that seek to overstep their essential reach. The server will continuously collect more data and recruit new users, which will correspondingly increase the confidence level and accuracy of RecDroid recommendations.
- The Perfect Coffee Cup by Suzanne Bowers, Jessica Ingram, David Murphy, and Gillian Stavlas [View Image]
Suzanne Bowers, Jessica Ingram, David Murphy, and Gillian Stavlas
To design a coffee cup that will maintain the coffee at the optimal drinking temperature for several hours using Phase Change Material, PCM. The importance of this project is designing a coffee cup that will retain its temperature for a prolonged period of time giving the consumer plenty of time to finish their coffee at the desired consumption temperature. We designed a double walled cup that would contain the PCM. Heat transfer calculations were done for different materials such as acrylic, glass, and stainless steel with various thicknesses for each material. These calculations were used to decide on the ideal material the cup should be made out of and the optimum thickness of the material. Rigorous experimentations have been done with the PCM showing the relationship between temperature and time for both melting and cooling the PCM. These experimentations were used to determine the amount of PCM needed per volume of coffee. Based off the preliminary heat transfer calculations, material pricing and availability, it has been concluded to manufacture the cup out of either glass or acrylic for the best results. Once the coffee is poured into the cup, the PCM will begin to melt, immediately activating the PCM. This will instantly cool the coffee to the optimal drinking temperature of 60°C and maintain the temperature of the coffee around 60°C for several hours. We anticipate that the PCM will be able to keep the coffee hot for at least twice as long while, cooling the coffee to drinking temperature in minutes. The PCM will melt at 60°C and will absorb the heat until the temperature of the coffee drops below 60°C. When this happens the PCM will then begin to solidify and radiate heat to warm the coffee back up to optimal temperatures.
- Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusor by Cody Boyd, Brian Hortelano, Yonathan Kassaye, Dimitris Killinger, Adam Stanfield, Jordan Stark, Thomas Veilleux, and Nick Reuter [View Image]
Cody Boyd, Brian Hortelano, Yonathan Kassaye, Dimitris Killinger, Adam Stanfield, Jordan Stark, Thomas Veilleux, and Nick Reuter
The VCU Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusor design project is a multi-year and multi-disciplinary venture. It was started as a means to build a neutron generator for the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering department at VCU. The IEC fusor is a device based on the designs of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the cathode ray tube. Our design utilizes a high voltage cathode located in a vacuum chamber that is filled with deuterium gas. This high voltage accelerates the deuterium particles towards the center of the chamber, resulting in deuterium-deuterium (D-D) fusion. This reaction creates a bright purple glow that can be seen through the viewport in the top of the fusor device. Overall, the fusor device consists of these components: a vacuum pump, turbo molecular pump, deuterium tank, fusor body, and the high voltage power source. This year, additions to the project include a cart to permanently house the fusor device, shielding to protect users from harmful radiation, a microcontroller device to monitor the device during experimentation, and an optimized grid to maximize neutron flux. An actively cooled grid will also be implemented to keep a constant temperature in the chamber, as well as limit deformation of the metal grid. The main goal of these additions is safety and usability for future use as a teaching aid for professors. We aim to make the setup as user friendly as possible, so that it will not be run in unsafe conditions. As of December 2014, all of the plans and preparations have been made so that we can start fabricating the planned systems during the spring 2015 semester. The fusor device itself is already functional, and can be run to produce a very low neutron flux that does not require shielding. All of the necessary tools and funding for the continuation of this project have already been acquired. Our plan is to have all of the additional systems working by May 2015.
- Formula-SAE: Shift System and Controls by Ashton Bressler, Cody Bryant, Christian Fergusson, and Jason Shephard [View Image]
Ashton Bressler, Cody Bryant, Christian Fergusson, and Jason Shephard
Problem statement: Formula SAE has been at VCU for the last three years and the team is now getting to the point of having the formula car ready to run and drive. One of the things that needs to be finished for this to happen is the installation of a shifting system.
Rationale: Once completed, the FSAE team will be one step closer to having a competition ready formula car. While a major part of the team is the members’ love of all things fast, we also believe that the car will provide exposure to the VCU School of Engineering through competitions and promotional events.
Approach: This design will provide a reliable, safe, and user-friendly system that provides quick responding shifts for the FSAE formula car. A micro-controller is to be programmed to take shift commands from the driver (sent via paddles located on the steering column), and process them into signals. These signals will then be sent to a pneumatic system that will perform the clutch and shift operations. In addition, the micro-controller will provide feedback of its operation to the driver using instrument cluster LED indicators.
Anticipated Results and Conclusions: Currently, the team plans on having the system designed and installed well in advance of April 2015. The system will provide 2 driving modes: one for the drag portion of competition and one for the street course portion. Complete shifting times are predicted be to within 1 millisecond of driver input.
- Clover Care: Website and E-Marketing Development by Parker Bryant, Amber Elliott, Weston Kingery, and Ervin Ramos [View Image]
Parker Bryant, Amber Elliott, Weston Kingery, and Ervin Ramos
Clover Care is a geographically diverse company with both caregivers and clients spread across multiple counties. Efficient resource management and communication is critical for such a broadly distributed company. Clover Care also expects to continue expanding its geographical service area, making a solution even more critical. Clover Care was interested in updating and expanding their existing website to address this need. The centralization provided by using a website allows caregivers, clients and their families, and managers a way to quickly and effectively communicate.
The primary Clover Care forms that were to be centralized included the caregiver timesheet, client case management form, and client invoice. Four distinct roles were identified as needing access to information: Caregiver, Client, Case Manager, and Administrator. Administrators required read and write capabilities for all objects. Case Managers required read capability for Caregiver timesheets and users, and write capability for case management forms. Caregivers required write capability for timesheets. Clients required read capability for timesheets, case management forms, and invoices.
Access to the secure forms was provided using a central logon page. Users were then taken to a dashboard that allowed them access to forms based on the user’s role. The user would then read from and/or write to a form based on the permissions associated with their role.
The website interface was developed using the PrimeFaces JSF library. Back-end functionality and security was provided using Spring and Hibernate. MySQL was used to store forms and user information for the purposes of development. This website is expected to be hosted using an Amazon hosting service (AWS), using their database service.
Once the web site is publicly hosted on AWS, statistics gathering and analysis will be performed to assist Clover Care in focusing on the geographical locations with the most usage. Our goal is to find an effective e-marketing strategy to increase the visibility of Clovercare in targeted geographical areas.
- Developing an EPICS IOC in LabVIEW by Kenneth Butler, David Shires, and Michael Talbott [View Image]
Kenneth Butler, David Shires, and Michael Talbott
Problem Statement In working with labView and experimental physics at Jefferson Lab the current configuration is a linux based control system. Christiana has posed the task of implementing a windows based network configuration where input and output from the data readings is distributed across the network. With the help of LabView demos and CALabs softIOC we were asked to prove the concept of this windows based configuration to be possible. Specifically the task is to prove (or disprove) that we can serve data using the caLabs soft IOC.
Rationale The current configuration of Jefferson Labs data systems is served on hardware that is obsolete (Networked Apple II boxes) compared to todays standards especially in regards to UX and ease of access. With a windows based implementation Jefferson Lab will be able to update to more current technology as well as enabling a more user friendly environment for the experimental physicists to work with. The impact of this proof of concept allows Jefferson Lab to move forward with an actual implementation on site. It was an ideal project for our team because we could set up a networked test environment on hardware that we had administrator access over. This alleviated the problem of having to ask the IT management department at Jefferson labs to open ports and relinquish privileged access for the purpose of testing this software.
Approach Initially, our team had to develop enough working knowledge of LabView to begin working on our problem. After preparing our team edited a LabView demo to change randomly generated input to String input we could control and serve to the caLabs softIOC. With no firewall restrictions we served input to another computer on our network which was successfully read and displayed in the caLabs/LabView UI. After successfully proving that caLabs soft IOC could indeed send information over the network, we began working on a simplified demo. The goal of this demo is to exhibit the proper usage of caLabs soft IOC over a Windows configured network. The result being a unambiguous implementation that can be scaled up as per the needs of Jefferson Labs.
Results After initial testing we have a documented a proof of concept that with no firewall restrictions that we are successfully able to serve LabView data to caLabs through a network. The results of this concept moves us into the next phase of our project. We have proven this concept will work. We are now hoping to contribute to the effort of an implementation on site. The first transition to this software package, at Jefferson Labs, will be the upgrade of the superconducting test facility called the Vertical Test Area. Another goal is to successfully build a working physical demo of this project with actual hardware PLC’s to display at the senior design expo at the end of the Spring 2015 semester.
- Cartridge Filter Testing and Development by Joshua Byrd, Daniel Phan, and Tejeswini Shrestha [View Image]
Joshua Byrd, Daniel Phan, and Tejeswini Shrestha
Problem statement The goal is to determine the parameters which produce the optimal filters.
Rationale Melt-blowing is a process by which Delta Pure uses to manufacture water filters. Several production parameters affect the characteristics of these filters and the goal is to determine which variables impact these characteristics the most.
Approach Three different production parameters were chosen; air pressure, polymer temperature, and extruder speed. Eight filters were produced with each parameter set to high and low points, as well as one filter which served as a midpoint for the data. These filters were run in the testing rig (pictured above) to find the differential pressure and the flow rate through the filter. The filters were then subjected to a compression test to find the load that the filters could take. Afterwards, statistical software was run to determine the parameters which most affected the filters’ rigidity, differential pressure, and flow rate.
Anticipated results and conclusions • Selection of parameters for testing of Filters by setting up a 3x3 DOE • Test pressure differential, flow rate, and rigidity of the filters • Use statistical software to find the optimal conditions of filter production
Results • Of the three chosen parameters, air pressure and extruder speed had the greatest impact on the filters’ characteristics. • Changes in flow rate were negligible across all the tested filters.
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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