Tagged: Alan Pisano

ECE Team Receives First Place Honors at Intel-Cornell Cup

May 12th, 2015 in Uncategorized

Senior Design Project Automates Plant Cultivation

By Mark Dwortzan


GrowBox team members Sasha Rosca (CE), Jesse Fordyce (EE), Patrick Crawford (CE), Mark Barrasso (CE) and Ahmed Alfuwaires (EE) display their project at the Intel-Cornell Cup finals.


C.A.R.R. team members Jason Tow (CE), Luke Poitras (EE), Jeremy Bensabat (CE), Caroline Wu (EE) and Omar Rana (CE) with their project at the Intel-Cornell Cup finals.

GrowBox, an ECE senior design team that developed a low-cost, fully automated, mobile app-controlled, hydroponic plant growing box, was named a First Place winner at the fourth annual Intel-Cornell Cup, an undergraduate competition focused on innovative applications of embedded technology. Vying with 21 other finalists from across the country on May 1-2 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Team GrowBox emerged not only with one of seven $2,500 First Place awards but also the competition’s People’s Choice Award of $1,000.

Selected by ECE alumni judges as this year’s best ECE senior design project, GrowBox uses an iOS app that controls everything a plant needs to grow successfully. Stackable and suitable for small spaces, each unit senses the pH and other key aspects of a solution of water and nutrients, modifies the solution as needed, adjusts water and lighting, and uses image processing to track stages of plant growth so care can be optimized. The purpose of GrowBox is to minimize the time, space, energy and knowledge required to grow a plant, thus giving more people easy access to fresh, home-grown vegetables.

GrowBox competed against highly innovative entries that ranged from the $10,000 Grand Prize winner, an amphibious rover that supports search and discovery of survivors after a disaster, to a 3D-printed, smart prosthetic arm. All projects incorporated the latest Intel Galileo and Atom Development boards and sought to tackle challenges in healthcare, the environment, search and rescue, and other domains.

“The key innovative aspect of the project is the clever use of image processing technology as well as the modular design of the GrowBox,” said Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE), the lead faculty member for the ECE Senior Design Project course.

“Going forward, we will be doing research as to how to turn our project into a successful business, and the prize money will be very helpful for that process,” said Sasha Rosca (CE), who came up with the idea for the project. The other team members are Ahmed Alfuwaires (EE), Mark Barrasso (CE), Patrick Crawford (CE) and Jesse Fordyce (EE).

Another ECE finalist, Team C.A.R.R. (Cyclist Alert Real-time Response), which notifies drivers of potential collisions with approaching cyclists, received one of seven Second Place awards.

More information about both ECE prizewinning teams is available here.

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ECE Seniors Share an Intention to Improve Societal Issues by Improving Technology

June 12th, 2014 in Alumni, Awards, Courses, Events, Recognition, Senior Design, Undergraduate Students, Video

By Gabriella McNevin

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 ECE Day 2014

Senior Capstone Design and Honors Thesis students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) spent May 5, 2014 showcasing projects that represented the culmination of their education at Boston University.

Each presentation accomplished more than just entertain the audience; it earned its creators their due respect. Topics covered technology like a 3D printer scanner, a remote controlled helicopter, and a Mario Kart video game.

During team 6’s presentation, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins blared through the speakers. The big screen streamed a video of a search and rescue remote controlled car, which the team programmed to patrol a fire hazard site for survivors. (Click the controller to listen to “Danger Zone”).

Earlier in the day, the team that created EPIC/ EpiPen Calls concluded their presentation with a spirited Q&A. A number of people –including team members, the client that requested technological support, and a panel of judges– raised their voice to speak about the real-world application and potential of the invention.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The commercial application that teams intend for their projects were as diverse as the equipment they used. The purpose of the designs ranged from assisting the visually impaired, to improving search and rescue missions, to generating alternative energy harvesting methods.

A panel of ECE alumni judges watched each presentation and asked questions to pick a winner for five of the ECE Day Awards. The judges were well prepared to make the call because each had once walked in the students’ shoes and all are currently executing the engineering skills that they realized during their Senior Capstone Design Course. ECE graduates Peter Galvin, Mikhail Gurevich, Craig Laboda, Ryan Lagoy, George Matthews, Drew Morris, Bradley Rufleth, Dan Ryan and Stephen Snyder served as the 2014 judges. Each missed work –at companies such as General Electric, Microsoft, ByteLite, and Btiometry– to share insight with the graduating class of 2014, and decide the most impressive project.

“Wow,” muttered an impressed audience member after the AutoScan team calmly countered questions posed by judges on the technical depth of the team’s invention. The team’s pothole detection system demonstrated the technical skill that is only achievable by a team of well-matched individuals with different specialties.

The dynamic skill sets within each team is key in assembling the ECE Senior Capstone Design Project teams. Associate Professor of the Practice Alan Pisano (ECE) coordinated 20 well-rounded teams by measuring individual strengths. For example, he placed students that gravitate towards user interface development with those who lean towards sensor analytics or java script programming.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The team members that created AutoScan contributed either their hardware or software know-how to develop the project that won Best ECE Senior Design Project Award, 2014. The team was also nominated to show a poster of their project at the national Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The mission of the Capstone Design Conference in Columbus is to improve design-based courses around the country. On June 2nd, Professor Pisano and team members Vinny DeGenova, Stuart Minshull, Nandheesh Prasad, Austen Schmidt, and Charlie Vincent flew to Ohio for the two-day event. Professor Pisano led a workshop on assembling strong design teams.

A significant feature of the Senior Design Capstone project is the team client. Each team is paired with a client. The client (who is either a professor or actively working) requests software and/or hardware for a particular problem that will improve a societal issue.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

The principle of a school in Boston that specializes in mentally and physically disabled student academics posed a task for one ECE senior design team. Carter School Principal Marianne Kopaczynski requested a learning tool that would impart fundamental communication and cognitive skills to students. The students created a user-friendly devise called the Automated Announcement System that generates announcements based on each student’s location. Principle Kopaczynski plans to install the system in the school to support location-based feedback learning.

ECE Day Award Winners

Best ECE Senior Design Project Award AutoScan
Entrepreneurial Award Cloud 3D Scanner
Design Excellence Award Cement Impedance Analyzer
Design Excellence Award dDOSI Spectrum Analysis Unit (dSAU)
Michael F. Ruane Award for Excellence in Senior Capstone Design Samuel Howes
Senior Honors Thesis Award Julie Frish, “Development of Low Loss Waveguides for Mid-Infrared Integrated Photonic Circuits”
Center for Space Physics Undergraduate Research Award Andrew Kelley
Teacher of the Year Ajay Joshi
Graduate Teaching Fellow of the Year/Teaching Assistant of the Year Lake Bu

Congratulations, Class of 2014!
Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.

Photo by Chitose Suzuki for Boston University Photography © 2010 Boston University all rights reserved.


By Gabriella McNevin

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