- Nuclear Reactor Simulator by Adriana Camargo, Jonathan Dip, Gordan Ek, Vance Petrella, Soeuth Soeun, and Nicole Waugh [View Image]
Adriana Camargo, Jonathan Dip, Gordan Ek, Vance Petrella, Soeuth Soeun, and Nicole Waugh
VCU’s nuclear reactor simulator provides a real time simulation of the operation of a nuclear power plant. Student developed LabVIEW programs display the controls and instrumentation of a reactor control room on twenty eight computer monitors, thirteen of which are touchscreens. Changing reactor conditions are calculated with the best-estimate nuclear system analysis code RETRAN-3D. Simulator design provides for the interaction between student reactor operators and an instructor through instructor driven reactor transients. The simulator is used as a teaching tool for VCU engineering students and for public education and community outreach. The VCU nuclear simulator is an ongoing senior design project suitable for computer science, mechanical and nuclear engineering, and electrical engineering students. Upgrades to the system under consideration include remote access to the simulator, expanded plant event capabilities, the addition of new reactor designs such as a boiling water reactor, and performance and user interface enhancements.
- Automotive Object Detection Training System by Lucas Cerully, Salima Fenaoui, and Derek McCubbin [View Image]
Lucas Cerully, Salima Fenaoui, and Derek McCubbin
With a constant rise in the automobile industry, there is a demand for more advanced integratable technology along with it. With the consumer’s safety always in mind, automobile companies are adding more to their systems to help detect and prevent collisions. Among these technologies is the object detection system. In summary, this component warns or reacts to oncoming objects that could put the driver in danger. As with any piece of technology, there are problems and bugs that the object detection system can come across that would cause it to act irregularly. In turn, this requires the availability of technicians who can troubleshoot and fix these systems. Currently, there are no systems in the market that simulate troubleshooting for object detection systems. Our system will provide the needed simulation to help automotive technicians learn how to troubleshoot object detection systems. This project will help train automotive technicians on troubleshooting automatic object detection systems for automobiles. Our project will give an expanded view of the components that make up the object detection systems that have not been shown before and will give students a deeper understanding of these systems. Our design will feature a front facing camera that will detect simple objects or shapes and an LED bank to represent the automatic braking. There will also be two distance sensors that will simulate blind spot detection with LED lights to show when an object is detected. Our system will be controlled with an Arduino microcontroller. Our automatic accident prevention system will demonstrate automatic braking and provide training technicians a visual aid for debugging similar systems. With intentional bugs implemented in the software and hardware, this training system will prove very useful for educational institutions.
- Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities in the Smart Grid & Thermodynamical Properties Database Software by Abderrahmen Chouat, Shiyoon Joo, and Jacob Holcombe [View Image]
Abderrahmen Chouat, Shiyoon Joo, and Jacob Holcombe
Project Scope: Smart grid stability and issues/ challenges associated with coupling nuclear and renewable energy source will be researched. The changes we can expect in grid technology so the robustness and resilience could be further improved will be addressed. This projects will entail literature surveys and may involve running some simulation software and comparisons. Another aspect of the project will be focus on nuclear plant as part of the future smart grid stability challenge. Specifically, this part of the project will entail CFD modeling of zig-zag Printed Circuit compact heat exchanger and modeling it in MATLAB and seeing the difference if any and gaining confidence in correlation which exist in the literature.
Rationale: I believe that this project has value and importance to the academic & research community here at VCU, and elsewhere in the United States, and even the world. There aren’t very many databases of thermodynamical properties combined together in this manner. One of the known Databases is by NIST, and it is not free. As it gets further developed, we cant measure its ability to influence because so much can be incorporated. For instance this simple application can be developed into a package of material for a class.
Approach: Well specifically for this java application I started with the basic logic for a couple of main components inside the program.
(1) – Reading Data-Structure .txt file -InputFile.txt -Units.txt -Additional Info.txt
(2) – Creating Data Structure - cor rect sizes must be read by tests from .txt files. - ability to work through them. - abilit y to extract/trim data - ability to graph data.
(3) LOOP BACK TO TOP IF CLIENT WANTS TO SEARCH AGAIN
Interim Results & Conclusion: In conclusion we want to be able to move forward. Progress comes with diligence, good creative thinking, being open minded, & taking pride in the work you do. We want to make an impact, to bring resources to researchers and students. So as we move forward we will be finding unique additions for he program that will be the most helpful to those who wish to use it. Maybe even get involved with the Mech & Nuc Engineering departments here at VCU.
- Industrial Brush Coiler Attachment by Amber Clark, Tim Paredes, Andy Richardson, Kayleigh Rogers, and Branden Yam [View Image]
Amber Clark, Tim Paredes, Andy Richardson, Kayleigh Rogers, and Branden Yam
Problem Statement: Company initially desired a new machine that would be able to produce external coiled brushes that would help in increasing revenue and project opportunities. The design has shifted to making an attachment to the existing equipment that would help in this effort instead of developing a completely new unit.
Rationale: Sealeze sees this as an opportunity of increasing revenue and also taking on the effort of making externally coiled brushes more efficiently. If successful, more clients can be taken in and it would make Sealeze a more versatile company.
Approach: The main approach revolved around weekly meetings with Sealeze. E-mail was utilized daily in order to make sure that the desire of the company were met. There were at least three different iterations to the design until one was settled upon. Main design tool used was SolidWorks and the design model was shown to the company frequently.
Interim Results and Conclusions: The main problems that were of concern revolved around the amount of force needed to bend the brush and in a circular fashion. Calculations were done to insure that the brush would be bent with the right amount of force when also taking into consideration the motor driven components that were guiding the brush.
Anticipated Results and Conclusions: According to the calculations, it is expected that the brush will not buckle while the machine is running and will be able to formed into the desired spiral.
- Temperature Measurement of Server Room by Eric Cobbinah, Faida Matabaro, Michael Tu, and James McAdams [View Image]
Eric Cobbinah, Faida Matabaro, Michael Tu, and James McAdams
In this project we will be developing a system to help monitor temperature in data centers. This system will include software and a circuit to route resistive temperature devices (RTDs) (Figure 1) to a microchip which will output their readings as data. The system should be able to connect with 64 RTDs, read the temperatures from them, and make the data accessible over a network. This system could also be used in other situations besides data centers. The user would decide where to place the devices and how to use the temperature data. This system will allow more RTDs to be monitored by the microchip than can currently be monitored. Currently one of the microchips can control 8 RTDs in a daisy chain configuration. The system will also allow the data to be accessed over a network. With this capability the user can check on the temperatures in the data center remotely. If successful, this project will give data center managers the capability to monitor for hot spots more easily and thoroughly. The system will be composed of the circuit which routes the RTDs to the chip and the software on the computer to control everything. To design the circuit block, diagrams will be used to represent the components and their functions. More detailed models will be made using circuit design software (Figure 2). Block diagrams will also be used to lay out the functions of the software. The software will need to send the current RTD routing data to the circuit, translate the data from the microchip, store the data, and supply the data in response to queries on the network. The system will use category 5 Ethernet cables for all connections, and the MAX31865 chip to read the RTDs. A raspberry pi device will be used as the controlling computer and will be programmed using the python programming language.
- Federated Account System For Accelerated Development of Internal Systems by Javan Cohen, Nandu Radhakrishnan, and Brian Seal [View Image]
Javan Cohen, Nandu Radhakrishnan, and Brian Seal
Massey Cancer Center is currently bound by an internal Active Directory and role based account system and organizations outside of VCU need to write specific code to be able to access the information provided. Massey wanted to move their system to a federated account system with claims based authentication. This project is important because having information readily available to other trusted cancer research groups will help promote understanding and treatment of cancerous cells. Our approach was to take what we learned in CMSC 355 to create a design document that was approved by Dr. Fenstermacher. We used this to create a system that was claims based. We currently have a functioning prototype, are familiar with C#, familiarized ourselves with the Cohort Discovery Tool so we will be prepared to tackle it next semester. We anticipate having a polished security and token system, and have the cohort discovery tool configured properly for client’s needs.
- Tapered Roller Bearing Test Rig: Axially Loaded Application to Accelerate Bearing Failure by Andrew Compton, Donnie Miller, Thomas Miller, and Milton Chandler [View Image]
Andrew Compton, Donnie Miller, Thomas Miller, and Milton Chandler
Problem Statement: Fatigue life testing of large tapered roller bearing components for rail applications is often very costly and time consuming. The purpose of this project is to assist Amsted Rail Company, Inc. develop a large railroad tapered roller bearing test rig that does not require scaled down prototypes bearings. As these are tapered rollers, loads can be applied from either the lateral or radial direction. L10 bearing life test predictions for the test rig bearings should be carried out using the American Bearing Manufacturers Association standards. The test rig can be designed to test as many as 4 bearings at a time or as little as one bearing raceway (1/2 bearing) at a time. The overall goal of the project is to design a test rig that will provide accelerated life test results, create solid models of the test rig design for illustration purposes, and provide supporting design calculations.
Rationale: With completion of this project it will allow Amstead Rail Company Inc. to test their bearing products in a quicker and more efficient manner. They will be able to obtain test data in a much quicker manner, drastically decreasing the amount of time needed to make manufacturing adjustments to current production. Secondly, it will allow Amstead Rail to excel in product development by enabling them to test prototype bearing at a never achieved pace.
Approach: Our team has used the method of static analysis to solve for the loads corresponding to a rail car bearing under full and partial loads. We then designed a prototype test rig and that we saw as a best fit to our customers need. We then animated the product in 3D using the Inventor CAD program and analyzed the rig/bearing in ANSYS computer software to ensure that it could provide/withstand the designed loads.
Interim Results and Conclusions: As of 12/1/2014 our team has determined the static loads that may be seen in the rig and bearing during testing operation. We have factored in many engineering criteria and worked with our contact personnel at Amstead Rail to ensure that our prototype design will meet their desired needs. Currently, our team starting to move forward with the Inventor 3D modeling and ANSYS load analysis of the test rig.
Anticipated Results and Conclusions: The expected results of this design project are to provide a bearing test rig concept that has been proven through static analysis; with corresponding 3D CAD drawings that will allow for a functioning prototype to be built along with a bill of materials needed to create the rig.
- Device to Deliver Endodontic Material for Temporary Dental Fillings by Garrett N. Cyprus, Hisham Kamoun, Gireesh B. Reddy, and Ali Salman [View Image]
Garrett N. Cyprus, Hisham Kamoun, Gireesh B. Reddy, and Ali Salman
Root canal therapy requires patients be treated over several visits to clean and shape the pulp chamber. In endodontic treatments, cotton wool is placed beneath the temporary filling to preserve the space of the pulp chamber and to prevent any blockage of the root canals with temporary filling between clinic visits. Despite its simple application and affordability, cotton wool can lead to fibrous remnants in the pulp chamber or become incorporated into the temporary filling, which can lead to micro-leakage or bacterial colonization on the cotton fibers and subsequent infection.
Gelatin capsules or silica gels are proposed endodontic materials which can replace cotton wool in root canal therapy by creating a barrier for entry into the root canals and conferring mechanical stability to the temporary filling above. An innovative and clinically suitable delivery device is required to catalyze the use of novel endodontic materials in place of cotton wool during root canal therapy.
The proposed solution is a device that will deliver a variety of endodontic material into the pulp cavity. The device will be comprised of customizable, disposable attachments that will contain sufficient endodontic material to fill the tooth and a permanent base that will house a mechanically operated delivery system.
The design team has created several concept designs for the dental device and narrowed them down as a group using evaluation criteria such as potential clinical feasibility, functionality, and utility. After overcoming initial difficulty with 3D drafting, 3D designs of the selected concept device have been developed and preliminary 3D model has been printed using ABS polymer. These preliminary models allow for analysis of size, weight, and handling and will allow for the further development and refinement of our design. Upon recognizing the need for further exploration of the potential user market, an online survey was created and distributed to better understand the preferences of clinicians with regards to dental devices. Responses from the School of Dentistry faculty are currently being collected and analyzed. In addition, an initial estimation of the project budget, including 3D printing and proposed materials for prototyping, was made. The focus of the team is currently centered on the ideation of the delivery mechanism, creation of customizable accessory attachments, and determination of prototyping strategy.
- Robotic Inspection of Geometrically Complex Tank Systems by James Dinsmore, Jay Kim, Randolph Snook, Thanh Tran, and Trenton Wilhelmi [View Image]
James Dinsmore, Jay Kim, Randolph Snook, Thanh Tran, and Trenton Wilhelmi
The primary focus of this project is to create an autonomous rail based robot to inspect and traverse tanks with the idea of future improvements that would carry out all duties of the refurbishing process. By using a more cost-efficient method of semi-autonomous robotic inspection and refurbishment, Newport News Shipbuilding will be able to reduce the risk of harm and level of manual labor required for the refurbishment process. Additionally, the amount of personal protective equipment that needs disposal should be decreased, thus having a positive impact on the environment.
An initial prototype was developed as a 2013-2014 senior project. The goal of this year’s project is to make desired improvements of the rail system, such as inverting the rail system, turning corners, and adding the capability of determining the location of the robot. The need to invert the rail system is to improve clearance through the portals for easier access throughout the tank while the workers are installing the system. By adding the ability to turn corners, the flexibility of the system is increased with regards to system reach and tank access. Finally, a method for determining its position within the tanks is required in order to allow external control of the installed system. This will increase safety by avoiding the need for a human observer in the bay while the robotic system is moving. Autodesk Inventor will be used for all design and analysis work.
The proposed inverted rail system utilizes the same rail material as proposed in phase one. However, the spreader bar concept is replaced with a magnetic hanger system in order to improve flexibility during installation and operations. The carriage design will also modified in order to allow turning corners without removal from the rail system. The anticipated results are a semi-autonomous robotic system that can travel smoothly on a rail based system to inspect the tank, while being directed by human operators outside the tank environment.
The anticipated results for Phase Two of this project are a carriage which can transport the required equipment for tank refurbishment throughout the tank, regardless of point of entry, all while transmitting positional information back to the operator. Future work will include improved position-detection equipment, as well as refinement to the carriage control system to allow better remote control of the system.
- A device for the objective assessment of ADHD using eye movements by Ankita Dosaj, Jefferson Overlin, and Cassie Turnage [View Image]
Ankita Dosaj, Jefferson Overlin, and Cassie Turnage
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder characterized by lack of focus, self-control,and hyperactivity. ADHD is difficult to diagnose without extensive observation by an expert, and even then is often misdiagnosed. Current methods of pediatric diagnosis rely on subjective measures of activity and behavior relative to other children . Proper diagnosis is critical in preventing unnecessary prescription of the powerful, habit-forming nature of the drugs used to manage ADHD, such as Adderall and Ritalin . Research has shown that patients with ADHD show abnormalities in reading tests and antisaccade tests, as these tests gauge ability to focus and suppress impulsive behavior . This project proposes to create a dedicated device that will use eye movement analysis to accurately and objectively screen children for ADHD. The device will be inexpensive and easy to use for school nurses, optometrists, and primary care physicians.
First, research was conducted to decide the type of eye tracker to build, the tests that would be run, the layout of the device, and the type of headgear to use. After the preliminary research was completed, it was decided that a limbus eye tracker would best fit the needed functionality of the device. Limbus tracking is both more accurate in horizontal tracking and less costly than other systems. A basic circuit diagram has been created and circuit parts have been ordered. The IR LED and phototransistors have been tested and appear to be working properly, but further testing will be conducted and mounting for the components will be constructed.
One problem encountered was the selection of a computational module that incorporates our needs for digital I/O, A/D conversion, significant processing power and speed, DOS-basedoperating system, and VGA output. No single board computer yet found incorporates all these features in one module without being too costly. The team is awaiting a decision concerning Sternheimer funding before exploring the use of more cost-effective strategies. Another point of discussion among the team was how to affix the device to a child’s head or keep a child’s head still enough for the eye tracker to be accurate. The result was a preliminary design utilizing safety glasses. The next steps in this project include deciding upon a single board computer and ordering it and ordering more circuit parts and safety glasses. While these parts come in, the circuit design can be enhanced, an approach for the programming portion will be created.
- Independent Exercise Assistive Device for Individuals with Visual Impairments by Ashley Duke, Megan Goldberg, and Lindsay Schnur [View Image]
Ashley Duke, Megan Goldberg, and Lindsay Schnur
Physical exercise is challenging for individuals who are blind because they lack the spatial awareness necessary to imitate described motions for exercises, and additionally require physical guidance. The current solutions involve tactile equipment to assist in body placement, but a person with low vision cannot compare their own position to the correct position and adjust properly. The proposed solution is an instructional yoga program that will give feedback to the user based on her exercise performance, allowing people who are blind to be able to perform these exercises independently at home. The design will incorporate the Skeletal Tracking program of the Microsoft Kinect, which uses infrared waves to determine 3D positions of twenty points on the body relative to one another. The program will use these points to determine the relative anatomical joint angles and relate them to the angles that correspond to the yoga positions. It will determine for each limb segment what motion is needed to match the desired yoga position. The user will then receive vibratory feedback on the portion of the limb in the direction in which it must move. There will be four vibrators each on the humerus and femur, one each for flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction, and two each on the forearm and lower leg, one for flexion and one for extension. Because only one of the vibrators corresponding to opposing motion will be on at a time, there are twelve channels of communication, each with three different positions (0: both off, 1: one on, -1: other on). Each limb will be adjusted and given feedback separately before the user holds the pose. A microcontroller will be programmed to activate the appropriate vibrator based on data sent wirelessly from the computer. The vibrators will be attached to compression sleeves, so their positioning is constant and in contact with the skin. Our progress includes designing the software concept and program outline as well as determining the hardware needed to provide feedback including a parts list. We also chose yoga poses that we expect to be detectable by the Kinect, and vibrators that are compatible both with our hardware and the sensitivity of the mechanoreceptors. We initially were underestimating the complexity of the hardware needed for wireless communication and for controlling the actuators, but our advising and research allowed us to understand and make decisions about these design components. We also modified the number of vibrators in our design due to eliminating rotating motion, at the suggestion of our advisor. We learned about how low vision affects balance and coordination, exercising, and spatial awareness.
- Carbon Adsorber Fouling: Removal of Ammonium Bisulfate by Ahmed Ahmed Elmak, R. Luke Bolten, and Christopher Holland [View Image]
Ahmed Ahmed Elmak, R. Luke Bolten, and Christopher Holland
Infilco Degremont’s efficient sludge treatment process using a High Temperature Fluidized Bed (HTFB) incinerator is used by several waste processing plants in the United States and Canada. In a few instances, a buildup of ammonium bisulfate within the activated carbon bed absorbers has become an issue. The carbon bed absorbers are used for the removal of mercury from the incinerator flue gas. Buildup of this compound on the carbon surface results in increases in the pressure drop across the adsorber, as well as decreases in the efficiency of the unit. This eventually leads to the need to shutdown the afflicted train in order to clean the absorbers and replace the activated carbon.
Based upon literature research, it is believed that sulfuric acid aerosols in the system reacts with ammonia entering the gas stream from the scrubber service water to form ammonium bisulfate. In order to reduce the production of ammonium bisulfate aerosols within the gas stream, a caustic scrubbing system will be added to the system to neutralize acidic sulfur oxide species present in the waste gas. Process information provided by Infilco was used to develop a process simulation through AspenTech. Using this simulation, recommendations for the rate of sodium hydroxide addition in the gas scrubber were made. Furthermore, the change in aerosol formation due to the reduction in sulfuric acid was estimated.
- Improved Lower-Arm Prosthesis by Trent Ernst, Eric Henderson, Patrick Borges, and Taylor Powell [View Image]
Trent Ernst, Eric Henderson, Patrick Borges, and Taylor Powell
Over the past few decades, innovations in myoelectric sensing in upper limb prostheses have given systems the ability to read, detect, and emulate fine motor control in an increasingly realistic manner. However, the practical impact that these scientific accomplishments yield is significantly limited by the lack of adoption witnessed by patients who are given such prosthetics. Some people see the device as a burden rather than an improvement. To address this issue, we propose the development of an improved lower arm prosthesis. This prosthesis is intended to encourage patient adoption and retention by emphasizing simplicity and comfort over technical precision. Our project has the ability to change one’s lifestyle. It’s significance can change a person’s life from living with one hand to now being able to use both. The importance to us as a group is not only to build a successful hand and learn something from it but also to make it successful, i.e. comfortable, reliable and low cost. We believe that we can positively impact an amputees life. The design of this prosthetic will be centered around: less weight, comfort, and low cost. An electromyographic (EMG) sensing system will be incorporated into our design. This system measures the electric signals emitted from the muscles of the user’s upper¬limb during attempted movement. Based on these read¬in micro¬voltages, a ZYBO Zynq¬7000 development board will be used to electrically control motors that manipulate string¬based tendons which control the hand. The comfort of the prosthesis will be optimized through the use of an adjustable elbow brace¬like attachment outfitted with breathable materials. We plan to construct a functioning hand that has an easy adaptability learning curve for the user.
- Molten Metal Loop Driven by Electromagnetic Pump by Dominic Espiritu, Dor Granek, Jerald Moore, and Scott Torres [View Image]
Dominic Espiritu, Dor Granek, Jerald Moore, and Scott Torres
The first challenge of this proposed study was the gauges for the loop, which were not functioning properly and giving off inaccurate data due to a loop flow issue. Therefore a new loop design, including gauges, was created to gather accurate data for the electromagnetic pump. The electromagnetic pump used in this experiment differs from the standard electromagnetic motors by using rare earth magnets set into opposing steel plates that rotate simultaneously. Accurate data from the velocity and pressure gauges is necessary so the correlation between the EM pump’s speed and the flow velocity could be calculated. This technology could be advantageous to industries using metal transportation, by saving both money and time for industries. A loop for molten metal must be created so that differential pressure and flow rate can be tracked accurately. This can be found through the use of research, model development, and previous design work. To accomplish this task, SolidWorks was used to create models of the molten metal loop to be built. Based on this data, the design was manufactured and tested to ensure it can accurately gather data. The important outcomes for this project were to develop correlations between the flux generated by the electromagnetic pump and the RPMs. If this was achieved, then the possible incorporation of a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) system will be incorporated to analyze the different compositions (contaminations) of the molten metal in the loop. Multiple ports were be added to the loop for implementation of the quartz window in anticipation of future use of the LIBS system, as well as other measurement apparatuses. In the meantime, the LIBS system will not be addressed at this stage in the project.
- Human-Machine Interfacing via Epidermal Electronic Systems by Michael Flynn, Matthew Nelson, Stefan Sharpley, and Drew Simmons [View Image]
Michael Flynn, Matthew Nelson, Stefan Sharpley, and Drew Simmons
Surface electromyography (EMG) is rapidly becoming a viable control source for interfacing with machines. By measuring the electric potential generated by the contractions of skeletal muscles, systems can be controlled with a mere flick of the wrist, allowing intuitive and versatile control to the wielder. As sensors and classification algorithms become more sophisticated, EMG control has increasing potential to revolutionize the way we interact with and utilize technology. Prosthetics in particular have benefited the most from these recent advances, with one research team successfully returning ambulation to a leg amputee last year. However, this technology is not yet suitable for practical use, as implementations often require bulky hardware and is limited by the complexities of the software. To amend these issues and facilitate further research in this field, we propose a consolidated solution that will handle the acquisition and classification of an EMG input while providing protocols to interface with an external system.
Where most setups are cumbersome and impractical, usually requiring a piece of dedicated hardware for each step in the signal chain, we have made our system as small and cost-effective as possible. By consolidating our solution onto a single circuit board with bluetooth integration, we will maximize portability and afford researchers flexibility when working with our system. This portability will allow our device to be placed in close proximity to the EMG sensors to transmit the signal wirelessly to a central hub, which will process it further. Here the central hub will classify the waveform and map it to a definitive command that can be used to interface with an external system. This will abstract the classification aspect away from the developer, simplifying the process and allowing them to focus on what they are trying to accomplish. Our system will also allow for further extension by being robust enough to handle multiple EMG inputs and allowing researchers to easily configure the device for their purposes. To accommodate future advances in classification algorithms or future improvements to the system itself, we will also provide frameworks that will allow researchers and developers to program the device themselves.
By giving researchers the tools to quickly implement this technology, we allow them to focus on other aspects of what they are trying to build instead of worrying about the technicalities that go into designing a system like this. Further development in this field will give us unprecedented ways to interact with the world around us and change how we utilize technology. Given this technology’s proclivity towards those who are disabled, our project has the potential to drastically improve the quality of life for the unfortunate as well.
- Head-Tracking Wireless Streaming Device by Christopher Foster, Kyle Arpe, and Zachary Somers [View Image]
Christopher Foster, Kyle Arpe, and Zachary Somers
In various businesses and services, there is a need for tight integration between visual media, human response to that media, and coordination of that response. For example, emergency responders may need information from a separate perspective using robotically controlled cameras in order to improve coordination efforts. The aim of this project is to design a low cost, high performance video streaming device. The essential feature of our design is to wirelessly send a video stream from a webcam to a micro-display and remotely control the orientation of the webcam using head movements. There are many future applications for this project including target recognition, blind spot detection, robotics, human studies, and security. Future improvements include the utilization of a transparent screen using OLED technology, power aware computing, data overlay onto the image displayed to the user, and a more ergonomic electronic solution.
- Virtual Bus Simulation: Driver and Fuel Efficiency by James Freund, Ivan Grinkevich, and Justin Boswell [View Image]
James Freund, Ivan Grinkevich, and Justin Boswell
Problem Statement: VCU will be putting together state of the art 3D curved screen driving simulator. This simulator will mimic fleets of vehicles behavior and will be networked with INL and Univ. of Idaho simulators. The project will entail putting the simulator together and improving existing simulator software.
Rationale: Conduct research in the areas of important behaviors to increase driver efficiency, how simulation training can encourage good driving habits, Psychology of driver habits and distractions, and benefits of audio and visual cues to assist drivers. Approach: Identify the most optimal 3d engine and develop simulation environment using the chosen engine.
Interim Results: • Identified the optimal 3d engine • Static objects and obstacles • Sky environment • Cameras and lighting • Field of view terrain • Load .scene of drivable course
Anticipated results: • Physics • Dynamic Traffic • Day/Night and Seasons • Make a drivable bus with User Interface for driver • Apply to new 3D screen equipment and Support for steering wheel and pedals
- Home Automation via Smart Technology by Christian Griggs, Audrey Morrisette, and James Pepper [View Image]
Christian Griggs, Audrey Morrisette, and James Pepper
Problem Statement The idea of an ‘Internet of Everything’ has been floating around for a while, but beyond mere buzzword this concept carries with it immense, and unfortunately as of yet untapped potential. The idea of complete interconnectivity most typically conjures images of home automation; smart appliances capable of self-regulation, self-setting thermostats, etc., but with this connectivity comes with it not only the capacity to remotely monitor an existing system but to control it as well (be it with a smart phone, online application, what have you). There exists ‘smart technologies’ which incorporate user’s smart phones in the operation and monitoring of home appliances, but rarely has this extended beyond novelty. The technology has failed to take off with the general public, be it due to the design not being given serious consideration (again, capitalization on mere novelty), limited functionality, or in perhaps the more obnoxious of scenarios unnecessary ‘bundling’. Without addressing the issue, the technology, and the potential it brings with it, will descend further into the realm of novelty and make serious consideration just that more difficult.
Rationale There is a niche available to produce a system which can be easily incorporated into a future design which takes into consideration this interconnectivity; a highly flexible, highly portable system would ideally, help this technology, and the ideas which inspired it, finally take off in the capacity we feel it capable.
Approach The approach taken by the team will be to construct an embeddable system which can detect parameters vital to the operation of a given appliance/component of the home as well as communicate remotely with the end user those parameters and adjust conditions accordingly. Anticipated
Results and Conclusions The anticipated results of our project is a system capable of receiving and interpreting a set of signals relevant to a given system, respond to the signals according to a program set by the manufacturer, and deliver those metrics to the end user while allowing for remote control. To better illustrate the concept, our intention is to design an iPhone app which allows for the control of a circuit constructed for demonstration purposes, and can receive updates/warnings should the circuit behave in a way unintended for the system.
- FSAE Pedal Box: Controlling Stop and Go by Christopher Hathcock and Tyler Munden [View Image]
Christopher Hathcock and Tyler Munden
The VCU FSAE team has a need for foot controls for the brakes and throttle on their newest race car. The assembly must meet the rules set forth by the FSAE organization to compete, and must be as light and low as possible to conserve the acceleration and handling characteristics of the car. Furthermore, the project must be completed on a budget of $500 allotted to Senior Design teams. The FSAE team has been working on the current car since 2005 and has yet to produce a drivable race car. The Senior Design teams this year cover the major systems needed to make the car run and compete in the national competition in Michigan. In order to conduct the first acceleration test, a foot control for the throttle must be present, and will soon mandate the need for control of the brakes. Goals for the pedal box include: simplicity of manufacture, durability, minimal weight, and low center of gravity. In the initial design phase, the options that would have raised the center of gravity were eliminated. Of the low-mount designs, options that would have required complex machining or non-standard parts were eliminated. Finally, any parts that could be made of lightweight materials were specified as such. The team has concluded on a robust and simple design for production. The final part of the design will be to eliminate weight through optimization, making sure that the materials are as thin as possible within a factor of safety. The results of the analysis may even show that symmetry in the 4 clamps used for repositioning the pedal assembly may be foregone in favor of fewer clamps mounted asymmetrically. Throughout this process, the design must be proven as safe given that there will be someone driving the car and –hopefully- at race-winning speeds.
- Tatami: An open source enterprise social network by Kenny Hegeland, Jeremy Narron, and Kameron Spruill [View Image]
Kenny Hegeland, Jeremy Narron, and Kameron Spruill
Tatami is an open source enterprise social network created by Ippon, a consulting and software design company with offices in France and the USA. Any company can install Tatami, allowing its employees to communicate in a Twitter-like fashion. Self-hosting Tatami also lets a company retain ownership of its data, keeping it out of the hands of third parties.
Tatami’s front end was originally coded using the Backbone.js library, which can make it challenging to add and modify features. Ippon decided to have it rewritten using the AngularJS web application framework, which will fix the previously mentioned problems. This rewrite will also allow contributors to easily overhaul Tatami’s conversation experience in the future.
Technology moves fast, so Tatami is a bit out of date in the back end as well. We will rewrite all database related Java code to work with the latest recommended version of Cassandra, the chosen database software for Tatami. Also, we will modify the Spring Framework back end to use Spring Boot so that companies can get Tatami up and running quicker.
Currently we have moved the front end from Backbone.js to AngularJS. We will spend the Spring 2015 semester upgrading the back end. Once all upgrades are complete, we expect it to be easier for software developers all over the world to contribute to Tatami on GitHub. Lastly, more activity on Tatami’s repository will help introduce more people to Tatami and increase the adoption of Tatami as the preferred way for employees to stay connected within their company.
- Low-Cost Desalination Unit: Direct Contact Membrane Distillation by Meghan Herbert-Walters, Aubrey Martin, Lauren Scolese, and Tina Trinh [View Image]
Meghan Herbert-Walters, Aubrey Martin, Lauren Scolese, and Tina Trinh
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 783 million people do not have access to a reliable clean water source. With this many people in the world without access to clean water, a solution to this problem is highly essential. The objective of this project is to create a low-cost compact desalination unit that can be used to turn contaminated water into pure drinking. For our design, a direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) approach was used. The DCMD system allows only for the evaporated feed water to pass through the membrane and therefore causes an increase in the amount of clean drinking water in the permeate tank. A diagram of the system and its components can be found below. The DCMD process provides a system that uses much lower temperatures and pressures than other distillation processes, thus requiring a considerably smaller amount of energy. Along with consuming low amounts of energy, the final design is a fraction of the cost of other desalination units. The low cost and low energy design will permit areas clean drinking water that previously could not afford more expensive systems. Based on experimental data and the size of this unit, a 0.39 liter increase in clean water, per day is possible. The design is simple enough that minor part upgrades or larger scaled models can be made, allowing for an increase in the clean water output.
- Flow-Cytometry Machine for the Developing World by Paul Howell, Jewel Nkwocha, and Jaynie Laverty [View Image]
Paul Howell, Jewel Nkwocha, and Jaynie Laverty
Flow cytometry provides critical diagnostic, measurement, and research applications across many healthcare and biological disciplines. Its use in the detection of blood-cancers, HIV/AIDS, cell differentiation, and viral detection is unique and unparalleled. Despite flow cytometry’s vast array of applications, its use is limited by expense. Rather than individual labs being able to afford a dedicated machine, core facilities are developed and the research is exported. In addition, flow cytometry’s high costs create a barrier to its implementation in developing nations.
There were 35 million people living with HIV in 2013, nearly 1% of the world’s population. There are more than 50,000 new cases of leukemia every year in the United States, accruing to more than 3% of all new cancer cases. More than 70,000 new cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 4.3% of all new cancer cases, were estimated in 2014 thus far. About 530,000 people, in the United States alone, are living with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. These diseases account for more than 1.5 million deaths every year. Flow cytometry can be and is a source of diagnostic measurement and monitoring of these and many other serious diseases. The problem lies in flow cytometry’s availability to world’s population.
A flow cytometry machine for the developing world should include the ability to count and distinguish cell types as well as detect a fluorophore-marked cell surface epitope. The machine should be low-cost and have streamlined functionality. Expected deliverables include computerized models of the individual components for 3D printing and a physical prototype.
Flow cytometry machines are typically sectioned in three aspects – optics, fluidics, and electronics – and our design concepts have been divided likewise.
Design concepts for the prototype optics currently include using LED lights or lasers salvaged from CD/DVD or Blu-ray players due to the extremely high cost of the currently used lasers. A CMOS type sensor or silicon array photodiode will reduce the cost of using the traditional photomultiplier tubes. In addition, costs will be reduced by the use of colored gel paper as bandpass filters.
Design concepts for the prototype fluidics include using a 3D printed flow cell or capillary array inspection point, in-case waste and sterilization management, and CAM arm- operated butterfly pump or syringe controlled flow.
The electronics aspects of the design include using an in-case microcontroller for fluid level alerts, switching between sample and sterilization fluids, data collection, and a LED or LCD display. Essential to the concept is an in-case uninterruptable power supply able to last long enough to finish running a sample and save the data.
- Decellularization of Porcine Lung Tissue by Kirsten Hulbert, Linh Ta, Lumumba Reid, Mahir Dagra, and Baltej Dhillon [View Image]
Kirsten Hulbert, Linh Ta, Lumumba Reid, Mahir Dagra, and Baltej Dhillon
Our project aims to standardize the decellularization of a porcine lung by creating a bioreactor to house the lung, automating the decellularization process and developing a protocol that will increase the precision and the repeatability of the process. Our deliverables include a working prototype, an automated system that will inform the user when the decellularization process is complete, a pressure sensor to control perfusion, and automated pressurized pulses that will increase the rate of decellularization.
Our accomplishments thus far include: a design for a working prototype that will decellularize a porcine lung, determining the proper rate to perfuse the lung, finalizing the list of chemicals and enzymes, and finding a colorimetric cellular assay to determine when decellularization has been completed.
Our research has shown that some amount of degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) will occur in the decellularization process. The degradation of the ECM will be minimized by controlling the flow rate to mimic physiological pressure and eliminating any air bubbles trapped within the lung thus allowing a faster perfusion rate of the decellularization chemicals. We can also minimize degradation by modifying existing protocols that already in use and by using a new method, such as N-TIRE, that has yet to be fully investigated.
The first problem we encountered was the identification of an existing automated method to decellularize a porcine lung. To overcome this, we have improved on the functionality by included a method to verify complete decellularization, modifying the protocol to reduce ECM degradation and reducing pressure during perfusion. The second problem that we encountered involved determining which assay could be used to determine if the lung had been fully decellularized by analyzing the fluid expelled from the lung. We chose the Bradford assay due to the visible color change. The third problem was with the lack of communication amongst team members. This was resolved following a meeting and discussion about more effective avenues of communication. The final problems we encountered were with using the N-TIRE method. These include the temporary vasoconstriction induced by the pulses, utilizing the process on an organ the size of the lung, and the possibility of damaging the lung tissue.
- 3-D Culture SystemFor Rapid Expansion of Human Neural Stem Cells by Waleed Ilyas, Jeeyun Park, Dan Reep, and Lawrence Talej [View Image]
Waleed Ilyas, Jeeyun Park, Dan Reep, and Lawrence Talej
Research into stem cells is a growing field of contemporary biology due to their extraordinary potential to develop into myriad cell types for use in regenerative medicine and research applications. Stem cells can vary from adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS. Due to the high potential for therapeutic applications, or individualized medicine, there is an increasing demand for stem cell quantities since a critical cell count must be met to demonstrate any therapeutic effect. The problem lies in the amount of time it takes to culture this critical cell count. Isolating fibroblasts in vitro and generating a high number of cells requires around a few weeks timeframe. Since this field requires urgency, we propose to develop acceleration via a specific substrate composition.
There are many existing substrate/culture systems departing from the traditional 2-dimensional polystyrene tissue cultures, such as hydrogel, fiber, and nanoparticle based suspension systems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages which were explored to determine the ideal system for scalable proliferation.
We will be using neural stem cells, a model type, because the neuron is a static cell type. These neural stem cells can generate neurons or glial cells. Our objective is to increase neurogenesis, not glial cells, as glial cells are associated with inhibitory and inflammatory pathways and the body has sufficient mechanisms for proliferation of glial cells.
Over the course of the semester, we succeeded in completing team and individualized laboratory technique trainings in bead preparation, fabrication, and neural stem cell culture. We completed a team¬based comprehensive literature overview per our advisor’s specifications. We used this information to guide our final decision to pursue a polystyrene based particle microcarrier 3-dimensional culture system. The design and construction of a novel mechanism by which a piezoelectric system may utilize sinusoidal waveforms to create homogeneous polystyrene beads was facilitated by a post¬doc working under our advisor.
In order to be clinically relevant, our process must be simple and replicable, with cells that easily attach and detach, while still ensuring our system will be compatible with subsequent manipulation. Ideally, we will produce a retrievable cell culture system which does not compromise cell viability or differentiable properties.
- Print Estimation: Columbia Printing and Graphics by Alex Jacobi, Chris Wooten, and Sahil Zubair [View Image]
Alex Jacobi, Chris Wooten, and Sahil Zubair
Problem Statement: Can we create a web application to help facilitate the estimation of printing services as requested by clients and allow for the full interaction between a client, sales representative, and an administrator all through a single web application.
Rationale: The importance of this project is to create an easy to use online service that a user can access from either their smartphone or desktop computer. If successful, this project will allow users to have quick access to quotes regarding their printing needs anywhere they are without the need of contacting an actual printing company. This project will also allow the owner of a printing company to easily manage and quote potential jobs from customers.
Approach: We aimed to create a web application where an administrator could view all jobs in a queue, assign certain jobs to a sales representative, and communicate with customers in order to better organize the process of managing clients as a print company. We created three endpoints: client, sales representative, and administrator. We wanted to create a client request form, a sales representative portal, an administrative tool to manage the web application, and a pdf estimate generator. The application uses php to interact with a mysql database to form dynamic views.
Anticipated Results/Conclusions: We have created a interactive web application to help handle the cost estimation of printing jobs requested by customers with minimal sales representative intervention. The result would be a deployable web application that could be used in a commercial setting to better manage and organize the needs of the print shops customers.
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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