Exoskeletal leg, instant DIY games, entire working microgrid wow at ECE Design Fair 2015

Students, faculty, industry and the public pack the Bahen Centre for Information Technology on April 2, 2015 to see fourth-year ECE students demonstrate their capstone projects.

Students, faculty, industry and the public packed the Bahen Centre for Information Technology on April 2, 2015 to see fourth-year ECE students demonstrate their capstone projects.

April 6, 2015

Two semesters, 84 teams, one mission: to design something that solves a real problem in engineering.

Like, for example, an entire functioning microgrid system, complete with smart control algorithms. Or a program that lets users imagine, create and play new side-scrolling games of their own design, instantly, on their mobile devices. Or a powered exoskeletal leg brace that helps a man with cerebral palsy extend his lower leg when walking.

The brightest up-and-coming minds in electrical and computer engineering unveiled these and more stunning solutions at The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering annual Design Fair week, from March 30 to April 1, 2015. The week culminated in a Showcase of the strongest projects on Thursday, April 2.

From left: Shakthi Seerala, Lakmini Perera, Kayatri Rangarajan, Tom Garside and Elizabeth Sumitro.

From left: Shakthi Seerala, Lakmini Perera, Kayatri Rangarajan, Tom Garside and Elizabeth Sumitro.

Students Lakmini Perera, Kayatri Rangarajan, Shakthi Seerala and Elizabeth Sumitro (all ElecE 1T4+PEY) worked closely with their client, Tom Garside, for months before demonstrating their team’s powered leg brace at the Fair, and then the final Showcase.

“The brace uses electrical outputs from Tom’s body, so we had to meet a few times a week towards the end for final testing and calibration,” said Perera.

“This is not a theoretical application—this is right here,” said Garside. “This is something I’m actually going to take possession of after the Fair.”

Rick Buczynski and Deepkanwal Plaha demonstrate their side-scrolling gaming app.

Rick Buczynski and Deepkanwal Plaha demonstrate their side-scrolling gaming app.

Only the 18 strongest projects were selected to advance to Thursday’s Showcase, held in the packed central atrium of the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. The demonstrations drew interest from faculty, students, media and even a class of Grades 2 and 3 from the nearby Lord Lansdowne Public School, who came to learn more about fun applications of science, technology and engineering.

Visitors of all ages were riveted by the app that lets you build your own side-scrolling gaming world, complete with enemies, challenges and architecture, and then play in it.

“I had a blast doing the game design,” said Rick Buczynski, who created the app with partner Deepkanwal Plaha (both CompE 1T4+PEY). “We’re hoping to launch it this summer and would like to see it in the App Store ASAP,” added Plaha. “We think getting it in the hands of users will really help the design process.”

Any Torontonians who lived through last December’s ice storm, and the extended blackouts that followed, understand the pressing need for a smarter power grid. A functioning micro-grid with smart control illustrates how power infrastructure of the future could respond to crises such as ice storms, floods or downed lines.

Yoley Li, Mia Ma, Tony Liu and Allen Gou (all ElecE 1T4+PEY) designed smart algorithms to find and react to faults in the system, shutting down power to low-piority areas such as neighbourhoods first, and keeping high-priority facilities such as hospitals and police stations online.

From left: Mia Ma, Yoley Li, Tony Liu and Allen Ma demonstrate their sustainable microgrid model.

From left: Mia Ma, Yoley Li, Tony Liu and Allen Gou demonstrate their sustainable microgrid model.

“This year’s projects really show what our students are capable of,” said Professor Khoman Phang, the course coordinator. “There’s always terrific energy around this final showcase as it’s a great chance to share our students’ work with the wider engineering community and the public.”

Morgan Hoffman, host of the show InnerSpace on Space Channel, and producers filmed segments on several projects for the show—the piece aired in April 2015 on Space Channel.

See and save pictures from the Design Fair and final Design Showcase

See and save pictures from the Fourth-Year & Alumni Celebration following the Design Showcase

More information:
Marit Mitchell
Senior Communications Officer
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
416-978-7997; marit.mitchell@utoronto.ca