June 3, 2010
ECE tinkerers had a chance to show off a semester's worth of gadgeting during the Build18 demo and final judging at this year's ECE Day celebration. Launched as a pilot project at the end of the 2009 spring semester, Build18 encourages students to innovate and create solutions to problems of their own choosing on their own time - free from the threat of tests, formal exams and project reviews. This year's Build18 initiative kicked off with a week of intense gadgeting in January and project demos that allowed students to show their progress to-date.
During ECE Day, the student groups were back in action to demonstrate the modifications and changes they'd made to their projects during the course of the semester. What started as a field of about 16 groups in January was eventually weeded down to four finalists who vied for Qualcomm's Innovation Award: LabRat 2.0, a system of cameras strategically placed in Hamerschlag Hall and connected to a web interface that allows people to see locations like the cluster and provide Twitter-like comments about what's going on; "BikeLite," a sweatshirt with buttons on the sleeves that activate LED "turn signal" lights on the back of the shirt and laser turn signals on the bike; "Glovinator," a glove communicator equipped with flex sensors that can detect movements like sign language or a virtual instrument and translate that information to a computer via USB; and "Air Guitar Hero," a normal pair of gloves outfitted with sensors that allow Guitar Hero players to strum away - without the guitar.
In addition to demo-ing their projects for the ECE community, each team had a chance to show off their creation for three Qualcomm staff members who traveled to campus to judge and present the Innovation Award. Geoff Wenger, Dale Wiggins and Ravi Lal - who earned his master's degree in ECE in 2008 - had the difficult task of choosing a winner from among the finalists. At the end of the day, though, Air Guitar Hero took home top honors, and sophomores Erik Schmidt, Jacob Olson and Nipunn Koorapati earned some great prizes from Qualcomm.
Click here for more on ECE Day.