Looking back, 2011 may well go down as a record year in the annals of College of Engineering and Computer Science student competitions. CSUN teams won, placed and showed in a variety of local, national and international contests, capturing championships, awards and recognition from Long Beach to Copenhagen. The following are highlights of an unforgettable season.
Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition.
CSUN’s Red RAVEN (for Robotic Autonomous Vehicle Engineered in Northridge) took the grand prize in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, which is cosponsored annually by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The CECS entry beat out 47 other robots in the June contest, which was held at Oakland University in Michigan, including vehicles entered by U.S. teams representing Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Princeton and international teams from Canada, Japan, China, India, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. It was the sixth time CSUN had entered the competition and the first time in the 19-year history of the event that a team from the West Coast took first place overall. Red RAVEN was a senior design project, and according to C.T. Lin, the mechanical engineering professor who supervised the project, one of the advantages the 2011 team had was assistance from some very enthusiastic IGV alumni, who volunteered their time to advise the seniors. In the individual categories, Red RAVEN placed first in the design competition and first in the navigation challenge and fourth in the autonomous challenge, scores that earned it the top spot. The victorious team was made up of project manager Nicholas Robert Keyawa, along with Mohammed Alhadlaq, Omar Alshahrani, Pei-chun Chen, Rodney Cheong Ye Yeu, Mike Cowhick, Alfie Gil, Amiel Hartman, Manuel Hernandez, Joseph Horvath, Rome Kenmepol, Andrew Lee, Garrett Leonard, Ara Mekhtarian, Jimmy Mohan, David Prince, Michael Staudenmeir, Steve Valadez, and Po-Jen Wang.
Human Powered Vehicle Challenge.
For more than 30 years, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has challenged students to design and race vehicles that are powered by nothing more than old-fashioned muscle. At the 2011 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC), held May 14 at Montana State University in Bozeman, the CSUN team raised the bar for future CECS contestants by placing higher than any previous team from the university. Designing the vehicle as a senior design project, the CSUN team, which built the frame and faring from scratch, finished first in design, second in the sprint, second in the endurance race and second overall in the speed class. Members of the high-scoring team included Osvaldo Arvizu, Elie Attarian, Jesshaim Bradshaw, Joseph Brinson, Michael Capellan, Steve Chenevert, Michael Dahme, David Frye, Armando Gonzalez, Elizabeth Hernandez, Mitchell Johnson, Siavash Kademi , Kaitlin Kirk, Justin Larson, Michael Lusk, Mohamed Mohsen, Bryan Pavell, John Pinpin, Maria Segura and Nicholas Silveri.
AUVSI Unmanned Air Systems Competition.
A team of CSUN students saw their senior design project take flight June 15-18 at the 2011 Unmanned Air Systems Competition, held at the PAX River Naval Air Station in Eastern Maryland. It was CSUN’s fourth year of competing but only its second year actually attending the competition, which is sponsored annually by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Each team is expected to demonstrate autonomous waypoint navigation through preprogrammed GPS points and then conduct an aerial search for objects on the ground before returning to base. The CSUN plane, dubbed the Flying Fox, placed sixth out of 26 teams—a significant jump from last year’s 17th place finish. It was designed and built by a multidisciplinary team made up of 12 seniors, several junior volunteers and a number of graduate student advisors, supervised by mechanical engineering professor Tim Fox. Members included Ahmad Alromeadheen, Hakim Bachmid, Jose Bechara, Daniel Bliman, Anton Bouckaert, Ryan Carpenter, Narongphon Changkaochai, Hooman Fathinejad, Aaron Ferber, Mahdi Ghalami, Edwin Leyva, Fidel Lopez, Brian Nakamura, Mario Olguin, Ryan Schaafsma and Giovanni Tello from mechanical engineering; Pete Peña, James Brook and Shea Smith from electrical and computer engineering; and Sydney Dixon from computer science.
CDIO Academy and Rethink City Competition.
One could argue that CSUN, located in one of the world’s great megacities, had an advantage over other entrants when it came to the 2011 CDIO Rethink City competition. The two-part competition, sponsored by the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) Initiative—an innovative educational framework for producing the next generation of engineers—solicited ideas from students from around the world for reimagining and reengineering megacities. More than 400 responded last spring; at CSUN alone, teams of students submitted 40 ideas. But ultimately, it was engineering prowess that won the day. The CSUN students behind two of those concepts—a highly efficient single-seat-width car and a plan to generate electricity by capturing energy from human physical activity—were selected to participate in the second part of the competition, the Rethink City Innovation Camp. Six students—Jonathan Yeager (biology), John-Luke Laue (computer science), Shaunt Avanessian (mechanical engineering), Richard Walker (mechanical engineering), Kristoffer Larson (mechanical engineering) and Justin Larson (senior, mechanical engineering)—traveled to Copenhagen for the four-day camp, which took place June 19-23 at the Technical University of Denmark. They were accompanied by mechanical engineering professor Nhut Ho, who coadvised the teams along with ME graduate coordinator Mike Kabo. At the camp, the students further developed and refined their ideas with help from top international scholars on such topics as market analysis, securing venture capital, planning and development and identification of target audiences to develop specific marketing strategies. Along with peers from India, Asia, England, Europe and Australia, they enjoyed the multicultural aspects of the experience, attending classes, sightseeing, participating in impromptu sports, and taking part in other group activities. “They only slept about four hours a night because they were having too much fun,” says Ho. In the end, the CSUN car team won the Best Pitch award, receiving a cash award and international recognition.
SS12: Code for a Cause competition.
A team of CSUN computer science students took first place in the SS12: Code for a Cause competition finals on March 19 at the Center on Disabilities International Conference in San Diego. The event was sponsored by Project Possibility, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating open-source software for persons with disabilities and educating students about accessibility and universal design concepts. The CSUN team, advised by Robert Lingard and made up of Victor Perez, Hung Quoc Nguyen, Chris Cederstrom, and Barack Karavani, had qualified the previous month at a local competition held at the university; other local competitions were held at USC and UCLA. The San Diego finals pitted the winning teams from the three local competitions against one another as they made presentations and demonstrated their applications. A panel of judges consisting of representatives from Microsoft’s Accessible Technology Group, Accessible Twitter, RIM, the WebAxe podcast, Johannes Kepler University Linz, the International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP) and the Paciello Group evaluated their performance. Although CSUN’s team faced stiff competition from the other teams, which included master’s-level students, their project on flashcards for hearing and visually impaired users that can be used on computers and mobile devices carried the day, and they were awarded the top prize.
IEEE Region 6 Southern Area Student Paper Contest.
Electrical and computer engineering students Matthew Keyawa, Alex Darejeh and Ivan Ivakhniouk won first place in the IEEE Region 6 Southern Area Student Paper contest in Long Beach on May 7 for their paper titled “Design of a High Frequency Software Defined Radio Transceiver: Linux Embedded System Installation and HF Power Amplifier Protection and Control.” In presenting their paper, which was based on their group senior design project, the trio competed against teams from ten Western states. Their win qualified them to go on to the regional competition in August in San Francisco, where they placed an impressive third against top students from the other four regions. Professors Sharlene Katz, James Flynn and David Schwartz supervised the ECE senior design projects and advised the team.