Late pressure leads to People's Choice Award at Senior Design Showcase




Late pressure leads to People's Choice Award at Senior Design Showcase

Calendar Icon Apr 26, 2016      Person Bust Icon By Karl Vogel     RSS Feed RSS

The Salvadoodle Doodler - developed by a team of electrical and computer engineering students (from left, Alex Hinton, Andy He, Andrew Nelson and Shane Kraus) - took home the People's Choice Award at the Senior Design Showcase on April 22 at Memorial Stadium.
The Salvadoodle Doodler - developed by a team of electrical and computer engineering students (from left, Alex Hinton, Andy He, Andrew Nelson and Shane Kraus) - took home the People's Choice Award at the Senior Design Showcase on April 22 at Memorial Stadium.
High temperatures and pressure miles below the Earth’s surface are known to have created diamonds.

The heat from an impending deadline and pressure from one senior design capstone faculty helped a team of electrical and computer engineering students create a robot that draws copies of images, and plenty of attention.

When 57 teams consisting of more than 200 engineering students presented on Friday, April 22 at the college’s Senior Design Showcase at Memorial Stadium, there were plenty of capstone projects that drew interest from the approximately 500 faculty, students, industry and other interested guests.

But it was the “Salvadoodle Doodler” – designed and created by Shane Kraus, Alex Hinton, Andy He and Andrew Nelson – that drew enough attention to be voted the People’s Choice Award winner.

This robot scans the edges and contours of an image, turns it into a binary matrix and creates commands that tell the robot how to replicate the image on another surface. At the showcase, the surface was typically made of paper and was drawn using various pens.

It, however, wasn’t the first plan the team had designs on.

“Our first idea, a gorilla robot, didn’t fly,” Kraus said. “Mark Bauer, our senior design teacher, said no.”

That sent the team back to brainstorming other possible projects, and sooner than they realized a deadline was upon them.

“The doodler was a final-hour kind of thing,” Hinton said. “It got to be near the day we had to finalize our project when Mark (professor of practice in electrical and computer engineering) said, ‘You need to settle on something right now or I’ll find something for you.’

“We were still talking through ideas on Thursday and Friday and all of a sudden one of us had an idea and it kind of morphed into the drawing robot. It ended up being a good choice because it brought together a lot of our skill sets and the hardware and the software and the different pieces of electrical engineering that we enjoy.”

Though none of the team members claims to be an artist, they are all musicians and were inspired by a project from an earlier year.

“A previous electrical design group inspired us with their laser engraver,” He said. “We aren’t artists, but there’s some art aspect to it (the Salvadoodle Doodler).”

Having the ability to produce something while the crowd was watching gave this robot an advantage at the Senior Design Showcase, Hinton said.

“I noticed how our booth was really busy the whole time. It just seemed like there was a crowd milling around and we were busy talking to people the entire time. It made the entire three hours just fly by,” Hinton said.

“Even for the people who weren’t as technological or didn’t understand the pieces or didn’t ask as many questions, they still enjoyed standing there just watching it draw. It was almost mesmerizing, it seemed like they just enjoyed seeing it happen.”

Though the project was more of a “novelty” and may not have long-lasting applications beyond the capstone experience, the team members said they have no regrets about their choice.

“Some people asked if we could have done something more ‘real-world’ applicable,” Nelson said. “There were a lot of other projects that could be used in everyday life, potentially. But we have no regrets,” Nelson said.

“I don’t see how anything could have been better than a gorilla,” Kraus said with a wry smile. “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”