ECE Celebrates 11th Annual Maryland Day

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ECE student volunteers meet Maryland Day visitors at the information booth on Kim Plaza.

On Saturday, April 25, 2009, 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 and alumni 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 Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) demonstration. 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 ASL project is under the directorship of Prof. Gilmer Blankenship. The student presenters, John Karvounis and Jared Napora helped guide the participants around the course throughout the event. 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 former students Justin Ahmanson, Timothy Babich, and occasional Maryland Day visitors 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.

Dr. Min Wu’s presenters David Hou, Wenjun Lu, Matthew Stamm, and Steve Tjoa were located in the Innovation Hall of Fame inside the Kim Building. Their demonstration provided visitors with interactive demos on state-of-the-art multimedia technologies and projects involving cutting-edge research and collaborative teamwork. Across from their demonstration, Dr. William Levine, Jay Renner, and undergraduate students Andrew Billenback, Ivan Penski, Chris Casarez, Jacob Cigna, and Dean Bawek 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. Christopher Davis, Navik Agrawal, and John Rzasa displayed the works of the Maryland Optics Group (MOG), 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 microscale mechanical, optical, and fluidic components, in addition to electronics.

Across the street from the Kim Building, in the AV Williams Building, Matteo Maschiati, Suzanne McDonald, Thomas Capon, and Tetsuaki Nakano exhibited the Intelligent Servo Systems “Cricket” demonstration, a project within Prof. P.S. Krishnaprasad's lab.

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

Published April 27, 2009