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Project Ideas

  1. Aug 28, 2010 #1
    Hi all,

    I am an EE senior in college and am taking a senior design course this semester before I graduate. It involves either choosing to undertake an educational project that one of the class professors suggests or using one of our own ideas. The course lasts a single semester and we are in groups of five students. Since this class is for Electrical and Computer engineering students, our project needs to include some aspect related to our major, but the end use of what we create can be in any field.

    My group got the list of projects proposed by the two professors in our class and while some were interesting, none just seemed to fit with what we were looking for. The group I am in has several people with power backgrounds so we would prefer to do something related to renewable energy if possible. So far we have tossed around a few ideas like piezoelectricity (using force/pressure or sound to create electricity), a bicycle generator (this idea seems overused to me, but would consider it if we could offer something unique that is not already out there), Portable Water-wheel Generator (think small portable windmill turned upside down in a river), or a windbelt (). These were a few ideas we discussed but do not have to make any final decisions until Tuesday.

    I figured I would ask the technically-minded fellows here at Physics Forums if they have any additional project that would be appropriate.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2010 #2
    I'd start by assessing what realizable resources do you have at hand. For example, some type of generator may sound like a good project, but it would likely require machined parts. Do you have access / funds / experience regarding machining?
    The same holds true regarding your ability to generate artwork for a circuit board, realize complex code in a realistic time, etc...

    I've been in the product development business for about 18 years, and my best word of advice is - steal. Well, not literally, but don't fabricate a thing that can be found somewhere. Don't write a line of code that can't be mooched. Stick a dozen ugly off-the-shelf circuits together before you try to get pretty with it.

    Why? Because you're in a hurry, and, fortunately for you, this is a prototype. Everything takes soooo much longer than you'd think. In the world, most anything new takes at least 9 months. I've been on a project where everything was custom - it took about 8 years to ship and the CEO lost his job.

    Finally check your math. You've spent 3 years learning analysis. If you make some reasonable assumptions about change in velocity of the air going past a little piezo generator, and then ascertain how much power was exchanged, does the idea make sense? You're math is the best tool in box.

    Good luck, have fun,

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