SCSU students have made big progress with wireless sensor network technology in the last eight years. A current group of seniors has continued to push the project to new heights by recently developing technology for the industry.
Electrical and Computer Engineering seniors Zak Abdi, Arteom Katkov, Suhaib Abugdera and Isaac Koop presented their findings at the Minnesota State Capital Building this spring.
“This project is a wireless sensor network, and its main purpose is to collect and relay sensor data wirelessly,” Abdi said. “The current technology we’re using is called SmartMesh IP.”
This technology requires a wired internet connection to a PC in order to access the network data. The group succeeded in making that setup process wireless so it can be accessed through cellular data and cloud computing without Wi-Fi.
Abugdera designed the printed circuit board (PCB) of the system using original microcontroller and wireless sensor network chips, and the power supply for the system can be charged via solar panels. This was chosen to make it self-sustaining and suitable to be used in any remote location. This makes it ideal for applications in environmental or agricultural monitoring, oil fields or the military.
Koop designed a phone app to set up and manage the network via cloud computing or directly using the Bluetooth, to set the Network ID, see network statistics and mote information and plot what it’s monitoring.
Configuring and controlling the system through a phone app was something he’d had no experience in, but he’s already directly taken those new skills to a recent internship. He said this project has taught him to not be afraid to go out and learn something new, instead learning steps to research and get answers.
Katkov said he also has gained valuable experience from the project, learning firmware design, real time operating systems (RTOS) and PCB design in his current internship. All four members of the project graduate this spring and are hired to begin full-time engineering positions this summer.
“The main thing they learn from this (project) is their confidence,” Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Dr. Yi Zheng said. “Through this involvement, they see a real industry project design cycle, design research, development and implementation of the finished product.”
Zheng serves as a mentor for the project and said they’ve been receiving support from Emerson since 2015, ranging from $20,000-$30,000 per year. This allows students to be paid a stipend for their work.
The collaboration is a prime example of a Minnesota company supporting students to better educate engineers. Zheng added that engineering positions in embedded systems are in high-demand because over 30 billion computer chips are produced yearly. People are needed to design and implement those hardware chips and their software in devices like phones, cars, refrigerators and more.
Multiple SCSU students have gone on to later work at Emerson, including Abdi, who will begin as a full-time embedded system engineer after graduation.
“This was a very challenging project, it feels amazing to have completed it,” Abdi concluded. “I feel like because of this project, I’ll now be able to do any industry project.”