Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology 2020-2021 Projects

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  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Devansh Singh, computer engineering

    • Soft-Robotics for Vehicular Safety

      Vehicle-2-Everything technology can make roads safer by allowing vehicles to communicate with each other. The goal of V2X is to reduce accidents where there is not a line-of-sight of the other vehicle, such as at intersections, in harsh driving conditions, and around curves.  The technology can reduce up to 94% of all unimpaired accidents in the US, resulting in saving 33,500+ lives a year. While the technology is compelling, consider that the antenna for V2X will be mounted on the roof. How then should a turned over vehicle, communicate reliably with other vehicles if another antenna doesn't also exist on the bottom of the vehicle? Or worse, when a V2X vehicle is stuck under a pile up of metal cars on an icy highway. It can be argued that in this situation this is the type of time when a car needs to alert other vehicles the most, when the antenna is damaged or not able to transmit a strong signal. It is hypothesized that soft-robotics could be used to deploy a spare antenna from under the vehicle. Students will continue an existing soft-robotics project, to make transportation safer. Students will construct soft-robots and apply them in transportation use-cases where safety is a necessity.  

    • This research activity lays the ground work for future undergraduates to implement the proposed system. There is a way forward for the work to be developed further, which can be picked up by other undergraduates this Fall.

      • The students working on this project will be exposed to soft-robotics, a cutting-edge field, and the technology applications showcased to potential funders for external grants.
      • Students engaged in this activity will learn about soft-robotics, vehicular communications, and embedded systems and sensors. Currently, the computer engineering department does not have the equipment necessary for soft-robotics. Learning about soft-robotics and building new soft-robotic systems will be a value add to the department.
      • Weekly tie-in meeting.
      • Scheduled time in lab with group to work on project.
      • Design and construction of soft-robotics.
      • Experimentation.
      • Drafting publications.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Bryan Pantoja- Villagomez, computer engineering

    • Development of Interactive Small-Scale Swimming Robot

      Recently, an autonomous robotic system has been integrated with various research areas, and one of the most promising interdisciplinary research areas at the interface of robotics and ethology, called Ethorobotics, has been highlighted. In these studies, to understanding animal behavior, a robot whose design is inspired by animals is utilized as a finely controllable stimulus. Our research aims to develop an integrative robotic system with a live creature such as a larval zebrafish or insects. Those animal models are utilized for studying various behavior and psychiatric disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By integrating the autonomous robotic system, the underlying dynamics of animal behaviors can be investigated accurately with unbiased data.

      In this project, students will be asked to design various interactive swimming robots, which can swim with a larval zebrafish in the water, and evaluate its swimming performance. The custom-built electromagnetic system will be utilized to control the developed robot, and students will be asked to test various control schemes to understand swimming behavior. It is interdisciplinary research across engineering, biology, and neuroscience, and will be a perfect opportunity both to gain research experience in engineering and science and obtain some cutting-edge technology in robotics.

      The ongoing projects in our laboratory are (1) Design and development a small-scale swimming Ethorobotics Robot, (2) Development of autonomous motion compensation system for a larval zebrafish, (3) Development of active-controllable treadmill for freely walking insects, and (4) Development and control of an animal-operating mobile robot.

      • Understand how a small-scale robot can swim
      • Describe how to control magnetic fields using custom-built electromagnets.
      • Use computer-aided design tools such as Solidworks to create a prototype.
      • Evaluate and analyze experimental data for modeling a system.
      • Design and develop a prototype swimming robot using soft lithography.
      • Literature survey and review about miniaturize swimmer.
      • Design, Fabricate, Test a swimming robot
      • Data Analysis of an experimental data
      • Write reports and present the experimental results
      • Participate in a weekly group/individual meeting
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Sky Papendorp, mechatronics engineering

    • Development of soft fluidic sensor for body motion sensing

      Stroke rehabilitation is very important for recovery after stroke. The patients need to exercise regularly and their progress should be monitored. Thus, development of body motion sensors which can detect the motion and performance of patients would be very important. The sensor data can be sent to medical centers to monitor the progress of the patients.  This project aims to develop soft motion sensors which can safely interface with human body to measure large motions/deformations. 

      The proposed soft sensors generally consist of a patterned balloon and a fluidic pressure sensor. As the balloon being stretched and deformed the internal pressure of the balloon will change. Consequently, the pressure reading can be correlated to deformation of balloon to create a motion sensor. The balloons can be fabricated from thermoplastic materials or silicons by means of molding, and thermoforming.  Figure 1 demonstrates a prototype of a motion sensor as a hand motion detector.  

      • Developing a functional prototype of the soft robot.
      • Submitting a journal paper.
      • Weekly meeting.
      • Development of weekly progress report.
      • Working in the lab.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Isabella Seeton, enviromental engineering

    • Classification of Microplastics at Water Treatment Plants

      Water and wastewater treatment plants are potentially a significant point source of microplastics to the environment, returning concentrated amounts of microplastics to water bodies, croplands, and even drinking water. With potential health risks associated with microplastics, it is important to be able to mitigate and control microplastic pollution.

      This research project aims to understand the quantity and type of microplastics observed at drinking water treatment plants. We will examine water and sediment from a sludge settling pond that overflows back into a lake from where the plant collects water for treatment and consumption. This will help us understand if any microplastics removed from drinking water are eventually reentering the environment. Characterization and classification of microplastics (polypropylene, polyethylene, polymers, etc.) is also necessary in order to better understand the source of the pollution and aid in the prevention of it from entering our drinking water system. Classification will be performed on advanced instrumentations such as Stereo Microscopes and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

      This research will be identifying how microplastics move through treatment plants, optimizing the analysis methods for obtaining microplastic concentrations, and understanding their potential to cycle through the environment. 

      • Understand how drinking water treatment plants process clean water and how they dispose of their waste.
      • Describe how to separate microplastics from complex environmental samples.
      • Use a stereo microscope and micro-FTIR tools for characterizing microplastics.
      • Evaluate and analyze experimental data.
      • Complete a reflection of your experience at the end of the term.
      • Perform reviews of the literature for characterization techniques and microscopy analysis of microplastics.
      • Tabulate the quantity of microplastics filtered from various sources.
      • Participate in research meetings.
      • Photograph and edit microscopy data for journal articles.
      • Manage data base of experimental data, including the quantity and type of microplastics. 
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Jayden Ayash, industrial and systems engineering

    • Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers

      In the US and most of the world, healthcare systems are facing incredible challenges due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and, as such, are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection, which has dramatically affected the way people work challenging employees health, well-being, and work engagement. Data were collected from an online survey regarding the mental, behavioral, and work perceptions of healthcare teams. In this project, the student will participate in analyzing these data, conducting literature reviews, and preparing abstracts/publications for dissemination.

    • Students will learn how to use excel functions to analyze data. Students will be involved in literature reviews, data cleaning, and data analysis.

    • The student will meet with faculty for 1 hour per week face to face or online and the work is done remotely.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Derek Price, mechanical engineering

    • Development of Wire Actuated Monolithic Soft Gripper Positioned by Robot Manipulator

      Robotic grippers integrated with end effectors have been widely used to pick and place targeted objects or assemble parts in the automation industry. Grippers are commonly attached as an end effector to the multi-link robots to change its orientation, and the performance of the gripping motion highly depends on the design of the gripper itself. Rigid mechanisms designed by traditional links and joints exhibit low performance compared to compliant mechanisms due to the friction, clearance, and backlash. A mechanism is said to be underactuated if the number of actuators is less than the degrees of freedom of the system and adaptive if the mechanism response adopts to the new environment.

      This project aims to design and develop an adaptive wire actuated compliant gripper mimicking human hand. The compliant gripper will be oriented through a 2D link robot. The configuration of the robot will be actuated by servo motors. The robot and the gripper will be 3D printed using polylactic acid (PLA) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). 

    • Student(s) participating in this project will be able to:

      • conduct an extended literature review
      • design a mechanism
      • build mechanism in a 3D printer
      • work with junior and senior mechanical engineering students
      • report their findings
      • present the phases of their research at local and international conferences
      • attend weekly meetings and have the first-hand experience of working as a team with peers
    • The student is expected to attend weekly meetings, show the progress and complete the tasks on time.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Donnie Roch, mechatronics engineering

    • Advanced Assistive Robotic Rehabilitation

      Rehabilitation is the most effective procedure for the stroke patients to regain their physical skills and improve activities of daily living. Recovering upper limb function after stroke requires intensive rehabilitation under the guidance of physical therapists: a costly and protracted process. Rehabilitation protocols that can be performed using robotic systems remotely at home with minimal assistance would decrease the cost of rehabilitation while reducing recovery time.
      Exoskeleton based robotic-assisted rehabilitation devices that can deliver high intensity, high-frequency training have been recently introduced. Such systems can be used independently without supervision of physical therapist, utilizes actuators and kinematic sensors to improve voluntary wrist movement of the stroke survivor while interacting with a goal-oriented interface (virtual environment). Although it has been clinically shown to improve functional abilities, motivation, and commitment to the rehabilitation programs, it requires users to have some degree of voluntary movement on their upper limb.

      This limits severely impaired stroke survivors who have very limited or even no motion on their limbs to benefit from these robotic-assisted systems. Fortunately, many of these users have trace neuromotor activity in their limbs that could provide useful signals to derive control mechanisms to actively engage in rehabilitation activities in the virtual environment. This neural or muscle activity which can be recorded in the form of electromyographic (EMG) and/or ultrasound signals using relevant sensors provide important information to infer users movement intent. Therefore, these signals could be used to control an exoskeleton or could directly control a virtual environment.
      In this ongoing research, we aim to use abovementioned biomedical sensors to develop a model which can augment rehabilitation assistance capabilities of robotic systems by providing continuous motion intent recognition of the wrist. Students will be working on the development of experimental data collection as well as integration of the control mechanism into available robotic rehabilitation device.

    • This project is conducted with an industry partner which would generate the below outcomes for the first-year scholars:
      • Learn how to use biomedical sensors to interface with hardware
      • Develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data
      • Exposed to neural network based classification methods
      • Experience in a biomedical research field
      • Interact with the industry partner which would help career development
      • Participate in group/individual weekly meetings
      • Literature review in the field
      • Experimental Data collection setup development
      • Progress Report
      • Conduct real model validation tests
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Bryanna Willis, computer engineering

    • STEM Mentor-Protege Program with Marietta Schools using the Texas Instrument TI-RSLK as a Tool

      With existing relationships with Marietta Schools and the Development assistance from Texas Instruments TI, this effort will use the Texas Instrument Robotic System Learning Kit (TI-RSLK), to foster and further develop the pathways for a STEM Mentor-Protege Program between the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Students & Faculty, and the Marietta Schools' Teachers and Middle/High School students (especially Females & Minority students), to create and nurture a sustainable STEM-Pipeline. This can then be further developed to also provide a foundation for possible responses to RFPs from Agencies such as the National Science Foundation NSF, in the foreseeable future.

      In the broader sense, this Research effort will lay the foundation for a Sustainable Mentor-Protégé, STEM-Student-Pipeline (especially for Females and Minority students). Students working on this project would be exposed to both the foundations and deeper understanding of how electronic system design works. They will also be involved in the processes of affordable Design, Build & Test activities.

      The TI-RSLK will allow students working on this project to learn about Robotic Systems and the Engineering Applications associated with them. Texas Instruments will supply the Project with several TI-RSLK Robots for Hands-On activities throughout the effort.

      At the end of each Program period, students would have demonstrated the value of the following: Mentoring relationships and the role that gender plays in STEM mentoring, particularly cross-gender mentoring relationships and whether they encourage positive socialization to the field in the same manner as same-gender mentoring relationships.

      • Mentoring relationships and the role that gender plays in STEM mentoring, particularly cross-gender mentoring relationships and whether they encourage positive socialization to the field in the same manner as same-gender mentoring relationships
      • The role of gender in different types of mentoring models and in the terms of mentoring relationships (i.e., formal or informal). For instance, studies could examine whether males and females in STEM fields receive the same benefits through formal and informal e-mentoring programs or whether mentoring relationships that utilize the citizen model facilitate the retention of females within STEM disciplines.
      • The elements of successful mentoring relationships formed by females in STEM disciplines to provide a more holistic picture of what factors need to be included in the design of such mentoring programs for maximum benefits


      •  Learn and understand Electrical Engineering concepts such as Voltage, Current, Power & Energy
      •  Learn about and understand Component Design, Assembly and Testing
      • Learn and understand Micro-Controller interfaces with Sensors, Actuators & Motors.
      •  Get in Group discussions about how to be a good Team Player
      •  Carry out Review of Literature on Robotics System Engineering & Technology
      • Assemble a TI-RSLK
      • Guided CODE Development exercises
      • Test a TI-RSLK
      • Data study and Analysis
      • Create Presentations on the Study
      • Write Reports on the Study
      • Participate in regular Group Meetings to build rapport and relationships
      • Publish to present at STEM Conferences
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Blair Cunningham, mechanical engineering

    • Anisotropy of 3D printed materials

      The subject research in Additive manufacturing (AM) (aka 3D printing) involves research into the material properties of 3D printed acrylonitrile-styrene-butadiene (ABS) tensile test specimens and the assessment of the properties depending on the orientation of the part during manufacturing.  An isotropic material is one which has the same properties throughout, regardless of direction or orientation.  An anisotropic material will have different properties depending on the orientation; a 3D printed part, may have a texture or grain developed by the direction of the extruded polymer which may have different mechanical properties (strength, hardness, toughness, etc.) when subjected to loads in different directions.  Test specimens are 3D printed and then tensile tested and hardness tested.  Specimens are 3D printed horizontally, vertically and at a 45 degree angles.

      • Students will learn to 3D print and print specimens.  
      • Students will learn to tensile test specimens and to operate a microhardness tester.
      • Student will also learn to take and present data in oral and written form.
      •  Operate 3D printers.  
      •  Organize and plan experiments. 
      •  Conduct testing. 
      •  Analyze results and plan for new experiments.
      •  Assist in preparation of technical papers and presentations on the research.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Chris Hunt, computer engineering

    • WiFi based indoor Passive Human Tracking

      Nowadays, WiFi is widely available everywhere. The project will develop a WiFi-based system that enables passive human localization and tracking using commodity off-the-shelf embedded devices. Indoor human localization and motion detection are key for a range of applications such as home security, occupancy and activity monitoring, retail analytics, etc. Most existing solutions, however, require special installation and calibration, so are hard to deploy. In our project, we will establish a connection between the autocorrelation function of the physical layer channel state information (CSI) of WiFi and target motion in the environment. Then, we can detect arbitrary motion, be it in Line-Of-Sight vicinity or behind multiple walls, providing sufficient whole-home coverage for typical apartments and houses using commodity WiFi devices. The proposed system should be a highly accurate, robust, and calibration-free wireless motion detector that achieves large through-the-wall coverage. Besides system development, we conduct extensive experiments in a typical office, an apartment, and a single house with different users for an overall period of more than a few weeks.

      • research experience, including literature survey, programming, hardware, experiment, and so on
      • a system with real impacts
      • follow the instructions from the advisor
      • learning programming
      • study on hardware
      • indoor experiments
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Colby Baldwin, computer engineering

    • Rapid, Portable, Infection Testing at Point-of-Care using Microfluidic Medical Devices

      This research is on developing a portable, rapid infection testing device at the point-of-care using microfluidic channels and solenoids. The antibodies for the virus are tagged with magnetic microbeads that goes through a solenoid, inducing an electrical signal. There are a lot of hands-on prototyping and testing. Prototyping includes using silicone and hardener to make micron sized channels, plus low-noise amplifier circuit design, simulation, testing, and integration. Other aspects of the project include 3D CAD design using Solidworks or other CAD software. There are chances for collaboration with biology and chemistry students at KSU as well as research teams at Georgia Tech and Emory on this highly interdisciplinary research.

    •  Depending on the different parts of the work the student would like to do, the outcomes include: 

      • 3D CAD design
      • Circuit simulation, PCB prototyping, and testing.
      • Silicone microfluidic device design, fabrication, and testing.
      • Learn to use microcontrollers for the solenoid winding process.
      • Weekly research meetings.
      • Working in the lab during the week, depending on the tasks and goals discussed with research advisor.
      • Midterm and Final PowerPoint presentation.
      • Final report.
  •  2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Giovanny Espitia, physics

    • 3D printable carbon nanocomposites

      Thermal management has been a critical issue in the development of electronics and will remain as an important research topic in the era of flexible electronics.  Flexible electronics are repeatedly subjected to a constant mechanical strain during daily use. Plastic deformation and micro-cracks generated by this fatigue loading will degrade the heat dissipation capacity of the materials used in flexible electronics. In this regard, carbon nanocomposites that are comprised of polymer matrix and carbon nanostructures such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene are exciting new 3D print inks for the fabrication of flexible electronics because of the excellent transport properties of their base carbon nanostructures, i.e. CNTs and graphene.

      To better utilize carbon nanocomposite inks for the fabrication of flexible electronics, a detailed understanding on the effect of mechanical deformation on their thermal transport properties is necessary. However, understanding the thermal transport property of carbon nanocomposite inks under mechanical strain is challenging because of the complexity of their structures. For example, the thermal conductivity of polymer matrix can be improved during strain because of the straightened polymer chains while the thermal conductivity of CNTs or graphene can be decreased during strain. The scientific objective of this project is to establish an understanding on the effect of mechanical strain on the thermal transport property of carbon nanocomposite inks for flexible electronics. The central hypothesis of this work is that carbon nanocomposite inks can be controlled to retain efficient thermal transport properties under mechanical deformation. Two goals are proposed: 1) Characterize the thermal transport properties of carbon nanocomposite inks under mechanical strain; 2) Investigate the correlation between different 3D printing parameters and the thermal transport properties of 3D printed carbon nanocomposites. This project will educate the next generation of scientists by involving them in advanced sensor technologies, material synthesis, and atomistic simulations. The results obtained in this research project will contribute to accelerating the development of futuristic flexible electronics that will impact many areas including human-machine interface, consumer electronics, biometrics, and healthcare.

    • Students will obtain advanced knowledge in various nano-structured materials. More specifically, they will be trained to understand the relationship between the atomic/molecular structures and the properties of materials. They will obtain advanced knowledge in additive manufacturing and their application in the fabrication of futuristic flexible electronics and advanced sensors. Moreover, students will be asked to learn how to implement various atomistic simulation techniques in studying the various transport properties of nano-structured materials. Additionally, students will be trained to write research papers and present their research results in various conferences. 

    • Students will need to have a meeting every week with the faculty mentor to share their progress in their research studies.

  •  2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Charles Koduru, mechatronics engineering

    • Biology to Biotechnology - Mimicking BATS sensing behaviors on Mobile Robots

      In mobile robot research, the robot needs to answer three main questions in order to make it navigate.

      1. Where am I?
      2. Where am I going?
      3. How do I get here?

      In order to address these questions on the Robotic Platform, we follow guidelines for the environmental model, for the interpretation and examination of the environment, for the location and condition of the system and for the planning of the movement.

      As we see, BATs navigation in the forest will resolve all the above questions by merely transmitting a sound wave and having to know the environment by hearing the echo.

      In the first part of the project, we will concentrate on creating a simulation environment like a forest and making our robot maneuver through acoustic laws. 

      The second step is to verify this strategy with a real robot and how fast the sensor is responding.
      But, on a larger scale, we can solve a lot of payload problems on robots and only set up a simple acoustic sensor to get to know the whole area.

    • It would a great platform for multiple students to conduct quality research. Students will be involved in literature reviews and will learn using advance software to develop Robotic algorithms.

      • Literature survey and review the previous researches on biology to biotechnology.
      • Analyze the ideas and prepare solutions 
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Graham Quasebarth, civil engineering

    • Exploring the Effects of Spaceflight Microgravity on Blood Flow and Cardiovascular Disease

      Long-duration spaceflight poses multiple hazards to human health, including physiological changes associated with microgravity. A recent study reported the existence of blood flow abnormalities in the jugular veins of six astronauts participating in long-duration spaceflight missions aboard the International Space Station, and an occlusion in the vein of one more. Although the cause-and-effect relationships between microgravity, blood flow alterations and cardiovascular disease have not yet been elucidated, it is well known that the vasculature is sensitive to its surrounding mechanical environment. Abnormalities in the fluid stresses imposed by blood flow on the surface of blood vessels for example are known to trigger inflammatory responses that may lead to cardiovascular disease. In this context, the hemodynamic alterations resulting from spaceflight microgravity may trigger a biological response leading to disease. Testing this hypothesis requires the characterization of the stress environment experienced by the vasculature under microgravity. To address this research need, we propose to develop computational fluid dynamics models of the human carotid bifurcation under unit gravity and modeled microgravity conditions, and to quantify their fluid stress characteristics on the arterial wall. This work will enable future investigations of the risk posed by spaceflight microgravity on cardiovascular disease.

      • Learn how to use state-of-the art computer-aided engineering (CAE) software
      • Use computer-aided design (CAD) tool to create geometrical models of the human carotid artery
      • Design computational fluid dynamics models of blood flow to simulate the flow in carotid arterial models under unit gravity and microgravity
      • Evaluate and analyze computational flow data
      • Literature review on carotid blood flow characteristics, microgravity-induced changes in blood flow, and computational fluid dynamics modeling
      • Design a realistic human carotid bifurcation flow model
      • Post-process the flow data and analyze the differences between unit gravity and microgravity
      • Participate in a weekly group meeting with other graduate student researchers
      • Write reports and present the computational results
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Brian Koch, mechanical engineering

    • 3D Printed Tensile Testing

      Design, build, and break. This project begins with designing tensile specimens according to industry standards using a CAD system.  Once the design is complete it's time to build the specimens using 3D printing.  The experiments will be set up to evaluate several different materials.  Due to 3D printing layer by layer build strategy different strengths may be obtained by orienting the specimens in different directions.  Each of the samples will then be tensile tested.  Data will be collected and recorded to determine the best 3D printed orientations.  This project involves the use of CAD, 3D printing, and tensile testing as well as research of industry standards, setting up experiments, and data collection

      • Research 3D printing tensile testing standards.
      • 3D print tensile specimens of different materials.
      • 3D print tensile specimens at different orientations.
      • Perform tensile testing of 3D printed tensile specimens.
      • Perform data collection of outcomes for tensile testing.
      • Reviewing ASTM 3D printing standards for tensile specimens.
      • Designing tensile specimens according to ASTM standards
      • 3D printing tensile specimens.
      • Testing 3D printed tensile specimens.
      • Documenting tensile testing outcomes
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Marceline Lewis, computer engineering

    • On-board Wave Energy Harvesting for Sustainable Boats and Ships

      Ocean wave is an abundant source of clean energy which offers great advantages over other renewables, such as its availability during both day and night times and much higher energy density compared to wind and solar. Currently, there are no viable or commercial technology available to harvest wave energy by individual boats and ships. In the United States only, there are more than 87,000 commercial fishing vessels and more than 100,000 recreational fishing boats. The world fishing fleet exceeds four million vessels, most of which are gasoline powered and release tons of polluting, toxic and greenhouse gases into the environment. In this project, we propose a novel hybrid wave energy conversion (HWEC) device that can be easily integrated and retrofitted into a boat or a ship to harvest renewable energy from the ocean waves and produce on-board electric power. This technology will reduce the dependence on gasoline – thus reducing the polluting and greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the global warming effects.
      The aim of this project is to design and fabricate a prototype of the proposed magneto-piezoelectric hybrid wave energy conversion device by applying electrical engineering and energy conversion principles resulting in a low-cost, modular HWEC device that can be easily retrofitted inside a fishing vessel or any other types of boats or ships – mounted underneath the decks, onto the floors or virtually anywhere on the vessel to produce clean electrical energy. The technology is scalable and could be easily adapted to next generation of all-electric commercial vessels, as well as navy ships. The first-year research scholar will gain valuable knowledge on renewable energy harvesting techniques from ocean waves, receive hands-on training and develop important and useful engineering research skills through this project.

      • Understand the fundamental principles of electromagnetic induction and piezoelectricity
      • Learn the sustainability and man-made climate change issues and the potential of ocean wave energy to improve sustainability through clean electric power generation.
      • Understand basic research methodologies starting from inception of idea to literature research, design, planning, fabrication, testing and research result dissemination.
      • Work in a multidisciplinary team environment with other undergraduate/graduate Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering students and develop teamwork skills.
      • Learn computer aided design of an electromechanical device structure.
      • Use 3D printing, laser cutting, machining and milling techniques to fabricate device parts and assembly.
      • Perform prototype device fabrication and design experiments.
      • Develop hands-on skills for electrical testing and measurement of energy conversion devices.
      • Develop professional communication and scientific/technical writing skills.
      • Perform literature survey and write summary of findings.
      • Design, fabricate, and test prototype wave energy conversion devices.
      • Perform data acquisition and experimental data analysis.
      • Communicate research progress and research results in research group meetings.
      • Write reports/manuscript drafts for prospective journal publications and prepare presentations for conferences
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Cory Stansberry, biology

    • How are Organic Fruits Different from Traditional Ones? A Thermo-Biological View Point 

      Recently, there has been an increased awareness among the people on the health benefits of organic produces. There has been no work found in the literature about the changes in the thermo-biological properties such as specific heat, thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, transpiration rate, and photosynthesis rate for organic fruits compared to the conventional ones. It is important to explore these differences in the thermal properties which play a vital role in the thermal design of refrigeration process to store and transport the fruits, accordingly.  In our initial investigation, which was recently published in IMECE 2019 (International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition), we used a non-invasive thermal imaging technique for four unripe avocado, kiwi, banana, and peach of both organic and conventional ones, with the same initial conditions. The thermal images of their ripening process were captured using a thermal camera (E5 IR CAMERA W/ MSX 120X90 RES) for three consecutive days, at a specific time, under the same environmental conditions. The thermal images show that the temperature of fruits increases during their ripening process but with different rates for both the groups which is due to their different thermal and biological properties.

      We propose to measure those differences in the thermal properties along with photosynthesis and transpiration rates, experimentally, for the stems and fruits of both organic and traditional tomatoes. Ten tomato plants will be grown for the experiment.The tomato was selected for the initial study since it is easy to grow and repeat the life cycle within a short period of time.
      In collaboration with Dr. Mario Bretfield of biology department the plants will be planned to grow at our KSU Field Station which is located near Kennesaw Campus under a proper supervision.

      The data from the experiment will be used as the preliminary results to apply for the funding opportunity from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under USDA-NIFA-AFRI-007252 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Education and Workforce Development Department of Agriculture. The goal of the proposal would be to expand this project to accommodate more varieties of the plants to investigate under organic and conventional groups.

      • To explain and measure the heat transfer mechanisms and related thermo-physical properties in the fruits and the plants.
      • To measure the transpiration and photosynthesis rate and their connection with the thermal properties of the fruits and the plants.
      • To measure specific heat, thermal conductivity, and thermal diffusivity of the plant stems and the fruits. 
      • To do the literature review that is related to the project and the significance of the project itself.
      • To record the transpiration and photosynthesis rate data at the field station for the plants.
      • To interpret the data obtained from the experiment to understand their relevance to the research.
      • To measure thermal conductivity, specific heat, and thermal diffusivity of the plants in the lab.
      • Drawing conclusions based on the results obtained.
      • Presenting the results in conferences and writing the paper at the end of the research.
      • To develop problem solving skills to positively address research obstacles in a team work by listening and communication skills with their colleagues.
      • To work in a planned and organized manner, setting and meeting deadlines. 
      • To communicate confidently and constructively with team-mates and faculty.
  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Sean Moser, electrical engineering

    • EEG based learning of the autonomous driving environment

      This research project aims to use the following tools:

      1. the EEG sensor system
      2. virtual visualization tools
      3. machine learning hardware and software tools

      to achieve human in loop passive reward generation for the Reinforcement Learning based autonomous car navigation problem.

      Reinforcement Learning is a cutting-edge machine learning tool that learns based on action dictated via an agent, which causes a transition from one state to another. The agent in turn is motivated by the set of prior provided rewards. Calculating rewards for autonomous systems is a very difficult and laborious process. Inverse Reinforcement Learning is a technique wherein humans provide the training for the reward learning process of RL. In this work, we propose the use of EEG sensing to generate the reward function. Furthermore, the following describes the additional work required to achieve the desired objective of EEG based reward generation:

      1. use of ML to group the EEG signals based on personalities
      2. understand behaviors by use of source localization
      3. understand and remove anomalous behavior study of EEG signals of multiple participants.
      4. use of EEG tool to analyze visualization scenarios of autonomous vehicles and create a reward for Reinforcement Learning based training of autonomous vehicles.

      Problem statement

      Accelerating an autonomous learning agents capability is the focus of this work. We propose the autonomous learning agent inherit the intelligence of a human agent by learning from the agent in terms of positive reward for correct action and a negative reward for an incorrect one.

      This Human-in-Loop approach will not only reduce the training time, improve performance, but it will also create a new paradigm in the reinforcement learning domain by enforcing rewards based on passive action from the human participant. As we use the EEG based reward generation, we alleviate the manual active human action requirement.

      • Get to use state of the art EEG hardware for brain wave monitoring. Get invaluable insight into the biomedical aspect of the human system as well as how ECE plays a role in processing and analyses. 
      • Get exposure to cutting edge machine learning tools and software while working in simple environments like Matlab. 
      • review of the topics related to the project including EEG, Virtual visualization and Machine learning.
      • practical use of EEG hardware to read, record and analyze signals.
      • create and innovate new techniques of advancing the current process.
      • implement the improvements and perform experimentation.
      • document the research activity via writing  technical report.

      The above tasks will be supported by the mentoring process.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Axle Wiley, mechatronics engineering

    • Design and Fabrication of a Stair Climbing Soft Robot for Disabled and Senior People

      Based on 2010 census data, there are around 3.6 million wheelchair users in the United States. The same data estimates that 15.2 million of individuals over the age of 65 experience difficulty in ambulation. Most of the residential homes built around the world and in the United States have no elevator for accessing different floors. This problems makes it difficult for disabled and senior people to perform their daily tasks. Several attempts have been made to address this problem by designing stair climbing robots to help residents without elevator. Traditionally, rigid materials are used for these robotic systems, which results in rigid, bulky and complex robots that are difficult to design, fabricate, transport and operate.

      Soft robots have several advantages over rigid-bodied robots including (a) lightweight, energy efficient and inexpensive design, (b) higher degrees of freedom due to their continuum nature, (c) compliance matching to the human tissue, and thereby safe interaction with people, (d), and (e) robustness against blunt collisions and low impact energy. This project proposes a small-scale soft robotic design that is primarily constructed of light-weight elastomers with modulus of elasticity in the range of that of soft human tissues. The robot is propelled in rolling motion by pneumatically actuated channels, and it is capable of rolling the stairs upward and downward.

      All components of the robot including a pneumatic power supply and the control board are contained inside the soft robot so that it can move freely without being connected to any external equipment. Since this is a soft-bodied robot made of forgiving materials, it provides a safe compliance matching surface to interact with the human body. People with disabilities and senior citizens comprise a significant portion of the community. This places a significant burden on individuals, families and society. This project proposes the development of a soft stair climbing robot, which will be of medical and economic benefit to all by providing important knowledge that can be used in commercialization of the future assistive robots.

      • The student will learn how to perform a literature review in the field of interest and summarize the findings.
      • The student will learn how to evaluate different designs based on their merit in addressing the needs of the targeted group of people. 
      • The student will learn how to 3D print molds to fabricate different parts of the robot.
      • The student will learn how to assemble different parts of the robot.
      • The student will learn how to evaluate the final design and make design modifications.
      • The student will learn how to write a technical report and present the results in professional events.
    • The student will meet with the supervisor (either face-to-face or online) to discuss the project step by step. After each step, the supervisor will help the student to take necessary modification in each step before starting the next activity. The student has freedom in implementing his or her ideas during the course of the project as long as it does not result in delaying the project outcomes.

  • 2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Dylan Stacy, biology

    • Mechanical responses of lipid vesicles under different hydraulic environment

      Mammalian cells are protected by a plasm membrane made of lipid bilayers. This membrane is highly deformable under various mechanical conditions, creating different morphologies for cells.  My prior studies have shown that the responses of cells are highly sensitive to extracellular hydraulic pressure, which is particularly prominent when cells reside in confined spaces. Although cells are living systems that respond actively to environments, they as enclosed vesicles respond passively to physical conditions in the first place. Differentiating the passive and active responses will help us better understand how cells adapt to environments and carrier out functions. It is challenging to differentiate the two types of responses in living cells; however, using liposomes will enable us to focus the study on the passive responses.

      In this interdisciplinary study, we will use both mathematical and experimental models to study the responses of passive liposomes. In particular, we will construct liposomes and observe their morphologies and motility under various hydraulic environments. The mathematical models will be developed on continuum mechanics and will be programed in MATLAB. The prediction from mathematical models will serve as guides to further design meaningful experiments.

      • Be able to describe the significance of lipid bilayer in biology.
      • Be able to explain mathematical models of biological systems.
      • Be able to explain how mechanics and physics play roles in biology.
      • Be able to analyze literature and identify key elements in the literature.
      • Be able to construct liposomes.
      • Be able to apply fluid mechanics, static mechanics, and numerical methods in modeling.
      • Be able to modify and develop MATLAB programs.
      • Be able to analyze and think through results in systematic ways.
      • Be able to present results in organized ways.
      • Be able to management time and projects.
      • Be able to develop academic presentation and writing skills.
      • Exceptional work will lead to professional conference presentations and journal publications.
      • Read literature.
      • Learn the biophysics of cell migration.
      • Construct liposomes.
      • Be involved in developing mathematical models.
      • Running MATLAB programs.
      • Analyze and organize results.
      • Meet with the PI to report progresses.


  •  2020-2021 First-Year Scholar: Harrison Iles, mechatronics engineering

    • Minimizing Power Losses in Solar Photovoltaic Systems 

      Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electric power by converting sun light into electric power. Due to its cleanness and sustainability, there has been growing interest in building solar PV projects over the world replacing traditional fossil fuels-based power plants. One of the problems facing solar PV projects is their lower efficiency. A major factor limiting their efficiency is partial shading which occurs when part of a solar system is shaded by a tree, cloud..etc. This project is to reduce the power losses experienced by solar PV systems when they are partially shaded. The project uses a novel algorithm that optimizes power extraction during partial shading.

      • The students working on this project will be introduced to solar photovoltaic systems, a growing field, and the technology proposals to potential funders for grants.
      • The student will gain confidence in building power electronics experimentation and designing solar PV systems.
      • Weekly meeting.
      • Designing and construction of experiments.
      • Drafting publications.