Monthly Archives: January 2016

A wave breaking in the open ocean. Photo credit Malene Thyssen / Wikimedia Commons
A wave breaking in the open ocean. Photo credit Malene Thyssen / Wikimedia CommonsEngineering Design Day 2016 will feature more than 100 interdisciplinary and subject-specific projects completed by student teams for mostly corporate sponsors, on topics as diverse as autonomous vehicles and inkjet-printed antennas. Three featured projects, however, have something in common: They’re solving engineering issues for the open seas.

Hydronalix, a local company founded by College of Engineering alumnus Tony Mulligan that won a 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration Tibbetts Award, is sponsoring two teams this year. Both aim to improve the versatility of the Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard robot, named a top invention by Popular Science and Time magazines. Students will work on the launch canister and sonar module for EMILY, a robotic lifeguard that made its first real-world rescue in 2012.

Design Day mainstay Texas Instruments has sponsored five teams a year since 2010 and funded the prestigious Analog Design Contest Award. Previous designs using the company’s semiconductors, integrated circuits and electronics have explored projects ranging from rockets to renewable energy systems to medical devices. This year’s deep-water sensor project, a remote system for collecting and sending scientific data, adds another facet to TI’s ever-expanding repertoire.

Team 15044 discuss their project around a table
Project Title: Deep-Water Sensor System

Texas Instruments logoTeam 15044 Members:
Matthew Ray Barragan, electrical and computer engineering
Austin Anthony Nawrocki, mechanical engineering
Nikitha Ramohalli, electrical and computer engineering
Alex Yudkovitz, systems engineering
Yi Zhang, electrical and computer engineering 

Sponsor: Texas Instruments

Team 15044 discuss their project around a tableTeam 15044 is charged with designing a small sensor system to take scientific data in deep water and transmit it long-distance to a base station on the surface, at minimal cost.

The probe – which measures pressure, temperature, acoustics and pH levels that indicate pollution concentrations – must be able to accept commands and power from the base station. The team is developing software to control and monitor the sensor. The most critical testing will evaluate in simulated but realistic lab conditions the signal strength and accuracy between sensor and station.

The team is working hard to meet as many objectives as possible by Design Day. During winter break in late December, team member Matthew Barragan started creating the controller and programming its interface, while electrical and computer engineering majors Nikitha Ramohalli and Yi Zhang began designing the base station’s electrical system.

The team remains cognizant of time and budgetary concerns, but their progress over break gives them a spring-semester advantage.

“The biggest challenge is to make sure our design actually works when we translate our plans from paper to machine,” said team leader Alex Yudkovitz.

The EMILY robotic lifeguard system at the Design Program open house
Project Title: Sonar Module Integration for the EMILY Rescue Boat

Hydronalix logoTeam 15008 Members:
Jeremy Burris, industrial engineering
Jordan Driggs, mechanical engineering
Uriel Garcia, electrical and computer engineering
Matthew Sybrant, systems engineering
Jessica Vickers Toll, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Hydronalix

The EMILY robotic lifeguard system at the Design Program open houseResembling a small red motorboat and weighing only 25 pounds, the EMILY robotic lifeguard can reach drowning swimmers up to six times faster than a human lifeguard, serve as a flotation device for six people, and operate in weather and surf conditions that impede traditional rescue methods.

Team 15008 is integrating a sonar system onto the EMILY rescue boat, enabling underwater scanning in search and recovery missions. Additionally, sponsor Hydronalix has asked the team to mount a front-facing waterproof camera onboard to provide a real-time water-level video feed.

The team’s greatest challenge is establishing and maintaining wireless communication between the user and EMILY. Team members also must integrate the sonar entirely within EMILY’s flotation cover, making the boat available for multiple missions with a simple cover exchange.

This project is not team leader Matthew Sybrant’s first foray into marine technologies. He spent several years in the Navy as a radar technician and anticipates great success.

“We have a stellar team, and we are all confident that we can meet these goals,” Sybrant said.

Teammate and fellow Raytheon intern Jordan Driggs has been excited to contribute.

“I wanted an engineering challenge and knew this was the kind of project that would have good people on it,” he said.

Mentor Clayton Grantham
Mentor Clayton GranthamAlthough retired, Grantham works tirelessly to improve students’ senior capstone experience.

As a second-generation Tucson native, two-time graduate of the University of Arizona College of Engineering and Engineering Design Program mentor since 2007, Clayton Grantham definitely fits the description of “Wildcat for Life.”

After completing his BS in electrical engineering in 1981, Grantham worked for Tucson-based Burr-Brown Corp. as a test engineer and product engineering manager in analog semiconductor engineering. He also published articles to highlight the latest operational amplifiers, data converters and various analog products and, in 1987, earned a master’s degree.

In 1997, he joined National Semiconductor as a test development manager for its power management product line. He retired in 2005.

However, Grantham couldn’t resist the call of the Engineering Design Program.

“When you get to work with these bright young people there is an exuberant feeling – like you’re part of the atoms that are being used to build something bigger,” he said.

Since joining the program, Grantham has mentored almost every team sponsored by Texas Instruments, the company that acquired Burr-Brown shortly after he left.

“I am down in the AME or ECE lab the majority of the time,” he said, “and I don’t leave until they say uncle.”