Of the over 500 teams that applied, two Oregon State teams were among the top 35 to make it to the finals of Intel’s 2014 Cornell Cup competition, held on May 2 and 3 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After three rounds of judging by Intel representatives including a floor presentation, and a formal pitch to an audience — both teams were awarded honorable mention.
The competition gives students the real-world experience of working as a team to design a product for a client. “There will be supply chain issues, there will be hobgoblins in what should be working hardware, there will be times when you absolutely lose the motivation to fix the last few issues. How you overcome these challenges dictates what kind of engineer you are,” said Kevin McGrath, advisor to the teams.
McGrath took a hands-off approach to mentoring the students, and let the teams take ownership of their projects. “I think it was a net benefit for us as a team,” said Josh Sklar, computer science student. “We got a lot more out of it because we were forced to do everything, and had free rein to be more creative.”
The two teams were multidisciplinary including members from computer science, and electrical and computer engineering. The Motion Safe Systems team also included a business major to help with marketing.
Motion Safe Systems
A team of six took on the radical idea of turning cars into an alert system to contact emergency responders and warn nearby drivers when an accident occurs. They created an affordable device that can plug into the on-board diagnostics port of a car.
The device can detect a crash with a combination of instruments including an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. But he genius of the system is it how the devices connect to one another via a wireless mesh network — allowing cars to “talk” to each other. Since no centralized controller is needed, the messages can be passed from car to car, spreading the information to cars too distant from the initial accident to receive direct transmission. Motion Safe Systems could also be expanded to allow users to connect with their smartphones to access other information from their cars such as fuel economy.
Dr. Wattson: Power Inspector
The four members of the Dr. Wattson team designed a product to help inform consumers about their power consumption. Their device takes energy monitoring in the home to a new level by allowing consumers to monitor several outlets at once. The data is sent wirelessly to a base station, where it is entered into a database. A web interface pulls the data from the database and displays it in a way that makes it easy for consumers to understand, and is accessible by a computer, tablet or phone. This advances current technology, such as the Kill-A-Watt, which monitors just one outlet and requires the user to look at the actual device where it is plugged in — sometimes under a desk or behind furniture. The team was also featured on the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science website.
The competition allowed the teams to connect with engineering students from all over the nation and find out about their projects. “The Cornell Cup was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. All 35 of the teams that were there definitely deserved to be there — great projects and smart people,” said Bennett Rand, computer science student.
Both teams will have their projects on display at OSU’s Engineering Expo on May 16.
Students interested in participating in the 2015 Cornell Cup can contact Kevin McGrath.
–by Rachel Robertson