ECE Celebrates 12th Annual Maryland Day

news story image

Photo by Jess Molina

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, 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 technologies of the future. Despite the threat of rain, Maryland Day attracted an estimated 55,000 visitors this year.

Many visitors browsed ECE’s exhibits outside on the Jeong H. Kim Building Plaza as well as indoors in the main lobby and laboratories. On the plaza, bright orange cones outlined a racetrack for the Autonomous Robot Competition, while an all-ECE student and alumni band played throughout the morning and 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. Wii 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, Jaymit Patel and Mike Stanley 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. Students from Prof. Blankenship's ENEE 408I Autonomous Robotics Capstone Design Course raced around the outdoor track, before moving their competition inside later in the day.

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 Justin Ahmanson, Timothy Babich, Frank Dehart, Joe Gross, students from the Electric Guitar Design class and occasional Maryland Day visitors filled in the harmony near the ECE table. The presenters provided a musical background to the Kim Plaza, and often gave their spectators an opportunity to strum on some strings, before having to move inside the Kim Building due to the threat of rain.

The IEEE and Eta Kappa Nu student groups offered one of the most popular attractions of the day with their Laser Obstacle Course, designed by ECE senior George Luo. Visitors lined up outside of the Kay Boardroom throughout the day to give the obstacle course a try to the theme of "Mission Impossible."

A multimedia exhibit organized by Prof. Min Wu and ECE graduate student presenters David Hou, Wenjun Lu, Matthew Stamm, Yongle Wu, Wei-Hong Chuang, Yan Chen, Ravi Garg and Steve Tjoa was 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, Prof. William Levine, Jay Renner, and undergraduate students enrolled in ENEE 461/ENME 461 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.

Prof. Christopher Davis, Navik Agrawal, John Rzasa and Ehren Hwang 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, Prof. Reza Ghodssi’s lab exhibited their Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) demonstrations, which have micro-scale mechanical, optical, and fluidic components, in addition to electronics.

It was a day of entertainment and learning for an audience of all ages.

To see photos from Maryland Day, click on the link below:

Published April 29, 2010