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The Engineering future on planet Earth: Young Tech minds at work

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Arizona State University (ASU) Engineering Polytechnic School Innovation Showcase at the Mesa, AZ campus.

The Innovation Showcase is an exhibit showing student-produced projects that solve real-world problems with innovative and imaginative solutions by ASU students. The teams collaborate with industry partners both in both local areas and around the world. The students create solutions to meet tangible industry and society needs to make the world a better place for its people.

What follows are a few of the interesting projects that caught my eye.

The first team I met was composed of Shannon Ault, Calvin Birr, and Brandon Larson had Dr. Sangram Redkar as their mentor on this project. This team chose a structurally sound mechanical design using chrome-moly steel tubing coupled with a relatively simple, but functional electronics package which included electronic bike wheels and hub motors. The power supply was composed of two battery packs with 336W capability. A simple remote control was used to steer the vehicle.

Tha AFRL Design Challenge

Tha AFRL Design Challenge


Team members from left to right:  Brandon Larson, Calvin Birr, and Shannon Ault worked well together and combined their individual expertise and disciplines to create this well thought out design.

Team members from left to right: Brandon Larson, Calvin Birr, and Shannon Ault worked well together and combined their individual expertise and disciplines to create this well thought out design.

I admired how well they complemented other team member’s strengths and how smoothly they explained their work to me on this project as individual team members and as a unified team effort. Meeting these young engineers gave me solid hope in our future to make the world a better place to live in. This project idea and this team’s expertise could lead to more future social applications that will help many other under-developed areas in the Third world.

Remote operation of the mechanical mule in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Challenge.

Remote operation of the mechanical mule in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Challenge.

The next project which I came across included a team with a young man named Joshua Kosar, whom I know from the Rossum Rumblers Robotics Club. Joshua also one of the team leaders on the Hyperloop Team at ASU competing in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition. (More on that in the last slide and in another upcoming article to be published soon on EDN)

The ASU Capstone team 11 designed and build a demonstration cell focused on the FANUC M10-iA robotic manipulator provided by Delta Technology Inc. The cell features industry standard safety systems and popular automation technologies such as machine vision, PLC control, and a dedicated safety controller. The robot will use a vacuum grip end-effector to pick up segments from a rotating stage, identified by the end-effector mounted vision camera, and place them on a board in user-defined combinations. (More details on this design as well shortly on EDN)

The Robot Arm was supplied by Delta Technology and the process automation with machine vision, robot internal function monitoring, HMI design, PLC control, and machine safety systems designed by the ASU team.

The Robot Arm was supplied by Delta Technology and the process automation with machine vision, robot internal function monitoring, HMI design, PLC control, and machine safety systems designed by the ASU team.

And finally, here is a brief preview of the AzLoop, Arizona’s SpaceX Hyperloop Competition Team.

ASU-based Arizona Hyperloop competition team, AZLoop. The team was one of only 24 teams, out of an initial 3,000 entries, to advance to the final round this August, with sights set on building the fastest mode of rail transport. This team is an interdisciplinary effort that includes engineering, robotics, physics, astrobiology, marketing and business management as well as a multi-university collaboration so in addition to ASU and its Thunderbird School of Global Management, students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northern Arizona University are working together as one seamless team. I personally witnessed this in a recent visit.

ASU-based Arizona Hyperloop competition team, AZLoop. The team was one of only 24 teams, out of an initial 3,000 entries, to advance to the final round this August, with sights set on building the fastest mode of rail transport. This team is an interdisciplinary effort that includes engineering, robotics, physics, astrobiology, marketing and business management as well as a multi-university collaboration so in addition to ASU and its Thunderbird School of Global Management, students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Northern Arizona University are working together as one seamless team. I personally witnessed this in a recent visit.

I don’t know about you, but I feel really good passing the ‘baton’ to these young, creative minds!

What are your thoughts on this subject?

1 comment on “The Engineering future on planet Earth: Young Tech minds at work

  1. D Feucht
    May 21, 2017

    Steve,

    I share your sentiment that it is encouraging to see young engineers showing ability in engineering. It was only 2 to 3 decades ago that the robot arm project would have been pushing the frontiers of research.

    The loop project reminds me of the Launch Loop concept developed by polymath Keith Lofstrom, when in his 20s and working a “day job” in Tektronix IC design at the time. The project is-was grandiose and has yet to reach fruition but has been the springboard to ServerSky (server-sky dot com) and other more readily achievable projects. Hopefully, some of these younger minds will choose a bright idea and persist with it until it is realized, as Keith is doing.

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