Before the Singh Imagineering Lab was launched in October, 2011, Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen envisioned the facility as a place where College of Engineering students could cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit and develop as Societal Engineers who apply their expertise to advance our quality of life. Since the Lab’s opening, more and more undergraduates have taken advantage of its tools and machinery to pursue their own ideas on how to do just that—including those who have vied for top prizes in the College’s annual Imagineering Competition.
Sponsored by John Maccarone (ENG’66), the competition was designed to reinforce the ideal of creating the Societal Engineer by spotlighting student efforts to design, build and test new technologies that promise to positively impact society. Imagineering Lab programming is supported by the Kern Family Foundation and alumni contributions to the ENG Annual Fund.
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Evan Lowell and Mehmet Akbulut (both ME’16) demonstrating their robotic guitar player
Close-up of guitar-playing robot system
To emulate how a human plays guitar, Cithara combines an off-the-shelf guitar (acoustic or electric) with two components powered by Arduino microcontrollers: a slider mechanism that presses frets at designated locations and a robotic arm that strums or plucks selected strings. Named for the Latin word for “guitar,” Cithara converts musical notes—input as tablature, which represents the precise fingering of the instrument within a specified timeframe—into machine instructions that encode the exact coordinates where the slider and arm should be positioned. The two mechanical engineering juniors who designed the system, Mehmet Akbulut and Evan Lowell, obtained about 80 percent of its materials from the Imagineering Lab (where Akbulut works as a manager), and engineered some parts using a 3-D printer. They envision its use as a cheaper alternative to paying for a live performer, and as an educational tool.
Osi Van Dessel (ME’17) with Scanner Probe robot prototype
Osi Van Dessel (ME’17) received $1,500 for his project, “Scanner Probe,” a tele-operated mobile robot that maps its surroundings using LIDAR, a technology that bounces pulsed laser light off of targeted objects to determine how far away they are. The Scanner Probe consists of a robot base, turret and two LIDAR sensor units that swivel back and forth to collect data and wirelessly transmit it to a computer, where a software program converts the data into a map in real time. LIDAR is typically used in large-scale research and industrial applications from self-driving cars to satellite systems that can cost thousands to millions of dollars, but Van Dessel aims to make the technology cheaper and more accessible for home-based robotic applications.
Two teams tied for third prize, each receiving $1,000 for their efforts.
Benjamin Rawstron (CE/EE’18) introduced his Smart Garage Monitor (SGM) as one component of a home automation network.
Benjamin Rawstron (CE/EE’18) was recognized for his project, a concept for a user-friendly, home automation network that enables users to monitor and control multiple household devices. With an overarching goal of configuring the network’s hardware so it can be updated anytime via the Internet, Rawstron designed a garage monitoring station that checks for safety and security threats such as high carbon monoxide levels and break-ins.
Chris Ingalls (CAS/CS’15), Anthony Tran (ME’16), Peter Tranoris (ME’16), Timothy Geraghty (ME’16) and Vani Patel (SMG/Marketing’16) presenting their concept for a smart bathroom mirror
Timothy Geraghty (ME’16), Chris Ingalls (CAS/CS’15), Vani Patel (SMG/Marketing’16), Peter Tranoris (ME’16) and Anthony Tran (ME’16) were recognized for their project, Sensa X, a concept for a highly interactive, smart bathroom mirror that displays the weather, traffic, news, date/time, daily calendar entry and other information that’s useful to know during one’s morning wakeup routine. They plan to make the info accessible by voice command and personalized in the presence of a user’s smartphone.
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Downtyme, an app that makes it easier for college students and other overscheduled people to get together offline, won the $2,500 first prize. Downtyme enables Facebook friends with free time to find each other by uploading their calendars, selecting one friend or group of friends who are free and close by during a specified window of time, and inviting them to share a meal, study, play basketball, hang out, and more. Incorporating more than 25,000 lines of code, the app displays friends on your screen in order of proximity and closeness of relationship to you. Team members include Timothy Chong (BME/CE’16), Luke Sorenson (CE/EE’16), John Moore (CE’16), Nick Sorenson (SMG’14) and Barron Roth (CE’16) (not in photo). Click here for more details.
The second prize winner, Konstantinos Oikonomopoulos (ME’14), received $1,500 for his project, “Hexapteron,” a robotic manipulator that can both translate and rotate objects about the x, y and z axes with three sets of software-controlled, carbon-fiber arms that move in parallel. It’s a next-generation, six-degrees-of-freedom manipulator with a unique design and properties that make it suitable for a wide range of applications, including affordable, desktop 3D printing on curved surfaces, multi-axis machining and multi-axis robotic assembly.
Adrian Tanner (ME’15) and Rhonda Silva (BME’15) won the $1,000 third place prize for their entry, “LickDat,” a device that monitors how frequently a laboratory mouse sucks on a water bottle containing a sweet, addictive, liquid food sample. Consisting of an Arduino (an open source electronics prototyping platform), LCD screen and liquid dispenser, the device was designed to support studies on food addiction conducted by the BU Medical School Laboratory of Addiction Genetics. Conventional lab equipment costs more than $300 and runs current through the mouse to detect each lick of the water bottle; LickDat costs less than $100 and uses capacitance sensors—a common technology in touchscreen surfaces—to detect licks. Here Tanner (left) and Silva (middle) offer Associate Professor Daniel Cole (ME) (right) the opportunity to put LickDat to the test by lightly touching the straw at the end of the water bottle.
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Smart Bike by Konstantinos Oikonomopoulos (ME’14) and Lanke A. Fu (ME’14)
Roommate Friendly Alarm Clock by John Aleman (ME’14) and Benjamin Corman (EE’14)
Third Prize (Tie)
Can of Corn by Yingming Wang (EE’13), Ajith Prasad (SMG’13) and Lalitha Kumaresan (EE’13)
Smart Medicine Cabinet by Benjamin Graham (ME’16)
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Low-cost Sounding Rocket by David Harris (ME’15)
Highly accurate, affordable, easy-to-assemble, desktop 3D printer by Konstantinos Oikonomopoulos (ME’14)
Low-cost personal wind turbine by Alex Kithes (EE’14) and Matthew Pollack (ME’14)
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