ECE Celebrates 10th Annual Maryland Day

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ECE student John Karvounis (center, red shirt) helps guide a Maryland Day visitor through the Maryland Cooperative Autonomous Vehicle System (MVACS) race track.

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On Saturday, April 26, 2008, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) offered Maryland Day visitors a look at how its faculty and students are engaging in exciting projects and advanced technologies of the future. This year, Maryland Day attracted an estimated 75,000 visitors, many of whom browsed the engineering exhibits on the Jeong H. Kim Building Plaza.

ECE shared the sunny Kim Plaza with the other engineering departments within the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Bright orange cones outlined a race track for the Autonomous Robot Competition, while an all-ECE student band played throughout the afternoon, showing off the electric guitars they designed.

Children of all ages were given the opportunity to race robots using hand controllers at the ECE Maryland Cooperative Autonomous Vehicle System (MVACS) demonstration. The MVACS project is under the directorship of Prof. Gilmer Blankenship. The student presenters, John Karvounis, Jared Napora, and Seth Napora, guided the participants around the course throughout the entire event. Small Xbox controllers were given to participants to race around the small track in an attempt to beat the time of the Autonomous Robot. The wheeled robots are designed for the purpose of exploring the intricacies of cooperative robotic systems. The robotic platforms are four-wheel-drive enabled, utilize dual-core processing and various optical and proximity-based sensors.

Rocking out around the corner, the ECE band demonstrated their student-designed electric guitars, accompanied with a bass and drum set. Project director Prof. Bruce Jacob set the bass line while his students Justin Ahmanson, Timothy Babich, and Marcus Young filled in the harmony behind Electrical and Computer Engineering. The presenters provided a musical background to the Kim Plaza, and often gave their spectators an opportunity to strum on some strings.

Inside the Kim Building, a number of ECE-related demonstrations could be found. Visitors entering the Kim Rotunda were greeted at the front door by the Robotics Club, while Kevin Galloway and his team exhibited the Intelligent Servo Systems “Cricket” demonstration, a project within Prof. P.S. Krishnaprasad's lab. Along with these demonstrations, lab tours were offered to the visitors. Professors William Levine and Sara Bergbrieter, along with Laboratory Engineer Jay Renner gave tours of the BAE Systems Controls Instructional Laboratory. In this lab, they introduced a stabilized inverted pendulum, a demonstration in which a computer controlled system was able to flip a pendulum into a 180-degree vertical position and stabilize it there.

Dr. Min Wu’s presenters Ashwin Swaminathan, Wenjun Lu, Steve Tjoa, and Avinash Varna were located in the Comcast Multimedia Signal Processing Lab and Sony Studio-Theater. Their demonstration provided visitors with interactive demos on state-of-the-art multimedia technologies and projects involving cutting-edge research and collaborative teamwork.

Dr. Christopher Davis displayed the works of the Maryland Optics Group (MOG) with his presenters Jaime Llorca and Shradda Sane, showing the visitors new ways of using lasers for optical communication and sensing. Down the street, in the J.M Patterson Building, Dr. Reza Ghodssi’s lab exhibited their Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) demonstrations, which have mechanical, optical, and fluidic components, in addition to electronics.

It was a day of entertainment and learning for an audience of all ages. For more photos of Maryland Day, click here:

Published April 28, 2008