On the last day of the Fall 2017 semester, 27 teams of Fulton Schools electrical engineering students based both online and on the ASU Tempe ground campus presented their capstone projects.
Online and ground campus students worked together to create engineering solutions to real-world challenges. Some teams worked on more traditional engineering problems like solar photovoltaic power plants and charging lithium ion batteries, and others found unique ways to apply the engineering skills they’ve learned in class, including memory aids for people with Alzheimer’s disease and infrared optical guitar pickups.
Mark Stoltz, an online electrical engineering senior who worked on the infrared optical guitar pickup project, said it was a great experiment to use signal processing, analog/digital circuit design and physical product design to create their prototype for a unique application of electrical engineering technologies.
As they progress on their capstone projects, all students figure out how to apply their classroom knowledge to a real-world application, and it’s not always easy.
“We learned there’s no one simple solution to a problem,” said online electrical engineering senior Peter Beck from Team CARS, who created an autonomous car crash recording system. “Because technology moves so quickly it’s impossible to go into a project knowing how to do everything.”
As part of a team, seniors also learn a lot about teamwork and how to communicate effectively.
Online electrical engineering senior Ashtyn Murker was on a four-student team of two online and two ground campus students. Together they created a safer and more reliable lithium ion battery charger that flexed their engineering skills as well as their teamwork skills.
“Being engineering students we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on with all the circuits and everything and we’re able to work through those in a logical manner,” Murker said, “but communicating with people and working in a team is definitely a different situation than we’ve had for our ASU careers.”
Whether the entire team was comprised of online students or a mix of online and ground campus students, creating physical prototypes posed logistical difficulties, but didn’t hinder their ability to create working physical prototypes.
Ryan Sinclair, online electrical engineering senior on a team that created a “smart” wirelessly controlled duck decoy, outlined the process of working with all remote teammates.
“There was a lot of shipping components back and forth to each other, so we divided and conquered,” Sinclair said. “Each of us took a big component to build, then we sent it to one of the teammates and they built it and got the code working, then they sent it to me, and I put it into the decoy, got it all waterproofed and did the final testing.”
Despite downtime while waiting for parts to ship, the team was able to work together smoothly over Google Hangouts, which made it easy to discuss the project and show demos over video chat, Sinclair said.
Jenna Duval, an online electrical engineering senior who worked with an all-online student team of students to create a memory enhancement aid for people with Alzheimer’s disease that combines facial recognition and smart health solutions, emphasized the importance of being able to work with remote and diverse teams for their future careers.
“It’s important to think about working with people all over the world, especially in engineering, and how to change your procedure and your perceptions to get through to people and to understand what they’re saying,” Duval said.
No matter where students are located, electrical engineering Associate Professor James Aberle says capstones are an important part of the ground campus and online electrical engineering student experience.
“This is the culmination of their undergraduate electrical engineering education where they show the finished project of what their education has been all about,” Aberle said.
These interesting and innovative projects and more were streamed live on YouTube throughout the day on Friday, December 1, 2017.