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IDEAS: 2005 Projects

Capstone Senior Design Projects

Alert System for the Hearing-Impaired

Mark Oda, Holly Shinohara
Advisor: Sally Wood (ELEN)

The students designed an easy-to-use, low-cost universal alerting mechanism for hearing or visually impaired individuals. The system uses three types of alerts - audio (loud buzzer), visual (flashing light / strobe) and vibration (vibrating motor attached to a pager worn by user). The students implemented their design on a smoke alarm. When smoke is detected, a transmitter sends a signal to a control system which in turn activates the alert mechanism.

Field Programmable Analog Array Based Radio Frequency Identification Reader

Ryan Escober, Jonathan Hsu, Ashley Kramer, Yelena Pesic
Advisor: Shoba Krishnan (ELEN)

The students built a Radio Frequency ID reader using a new technology known as the Field Programmable Analog Array (FPAA) that can read RF tags/transponders at two frequencies (134.2 kHz and 13.56 MHz). Currently, all single system RFID readers require separate circuits to support multiple frequencies; the objective is to use the dynamic capabilities of the FPAA to implement a multiple frequency RFID reader on the same circuit. RFID technology has numerous applications in retail, government and education. A prototype system was tested and used to monitor children’s whereabouts at Kids On Campus (KOC) a daycare facility at Santa Clara University.

Gravity Fed Water System

Victor Lopez
Advisor: Edwin Maurer (CENG)

Potable water is available to only about 28% of people who live in the rural communities of La Isla/La Junta, Nicaragua. The student designed a gravity flow water distribution system to move water from a natural spring to the community. A main water line travels from the natural spring to a storage tank, and a distribution network moves the water from the storage tank to the individual faucets. The system was designed to provide water to the 36 homes in the community – allowing for personal washing, drinking, cooking, and domestic animal needs.

Human-Powered Utility Vehicle: Designed for Mass Production for the People of El Salvador

William Arroyo, Cody Bedell, Robin Bell, Francisco Prado Cervantes, Andrew Leland, Charles Leone
Advisor: Timothy Hight (MECH)

The project team chose to develop a human-powered utility vehicle that could be used in small El Salvadoran towns as a primary means of transporting people and cargo. The front of the vehicle has a large cargo box. Mounted to the frame of the cargo box are the front forks of two bicycle frames that are connected forming the steering mechanism. The back half of a bicycle frame is mounted to the rear of the cargo box; this is where the driver sits, steers, and pedals to move the vehicle.

Mesh Anchorage for the Sustainability of Hay Bale Walls

Andrew Parker
Advisor: Mark Aschheim (CENG)

This project examined the strength of various mesh anchorage details to aid in the design of durable, earthquake-resistant straw bale structures. Attention was also given to the potential for the deterioration of the mesh and/or staple over time.

Multisensor Monitoring System for Independent Living (aka Guardian Angel)

Edward Arteche, Mark Bactol, Marlon Evangelista, Elijah-Giuseppe C. Nicolas
Advisors: Sally Wood (ELEN), Peter Dommel (COEN)

The project goal was to design a device that could monitor a person’s heart rate and physical orientation to detect and improve response time to a heart attack, stroke, or accidental fall. The device would allow an elderly person to be able to live alone at home while having the peace of mind knowing that their health and safety are being monitored. Information obtained from monitors is relayed to a server then stored in a database that can be accessed from the Internet.

Music Is Possible for the Motor Impaired

Kevin Ip, Luis Vicencio
Advisor: Shoba Krishnan (ELEN)

Two students combined a glove with a flex sensor system to allow a person with spastic cerebral palsy to be able to produce and play music. Flex sensor data is first arranged into a useful and retrievable form. Each movement is then linked with a particular musical sequence. Audio output is enabled via instructions and an audio synthesizer.

Seismic Roof Designs in El Salvador with Investigation of Sustainable Bamboo I-Joists

Mark Folgner
Advisor: Mark Aschheim (CENG)

The project developed bamboo roofing systems for Mixto (confined masonry) houses in El Salvador and manufactured bamboo I-joists to provide a sustainable alternative to manufactured timber I-joists. The goal of the project was to design a sustainable roofing structure using Bamboo that could replace the steel channels currently imported from Guatemala and to provide seismic resistance to the roof systems.

Seismic Susceptibility and Sustainability of Clay Brick Structures in El Salvador

Shannon Flanagan, John Harlander, Chris Pitt
Advisor: Mark Aschheim (CENG)

In El Salvador, many homes have been destroyed or damaged by earthquakes. This project focused on three primary aspects of improving “Mixto,” an improved clay brick technology used in El Salvador. Mixto uses fired clay brick wall infill sections confined within reinforced concrete beams and columns, where the concrete is placed after the bricks are laid. Homes built using Mixto performed reasonably well in earthquakes, with fewer than 12% of the total units damaged.

Smart Window Indoor Environmental Control System

Aldwin De Torres, Crystal Fernandes, Richard Koong, John McCabe, Michael Pargett, Kelly Pennington
Advisors: Mark Aschheim (CENG), Timothy Hight (MECH), Chris Kitts (MECH)

The goal of the project was to develop an energy efficient climate control system. This solution controls light and heat entering the room by optimizing room fenestration. The window also integrates with artificial lighting and HVAC systems to provide conditions that meet user specifications at all times. The SCU Smart Window was designed to mimic a conventional window in its size, shape and functionality.

Sustainable Solar Power Solution for the Freshwater Infrastructure of Isla Zacatillo

Michael Downing, Brian Edlefsen, David Hague, Nicholas Lochridge, Steven Perry
Advisors: Jorge Gonzalez (MECH), Tim Healy (ELEN), Timothy Hight (MECH)

Isla Zacatillo, a small island off the coast of El Salvador, receives their fresh water through a delivery system that operates on electricity. The electrical grid was prone to frequent inoperability causing the people to be without fresh water for days at a time. The team designed a replacement system that is sustainable, requires little maintenance, and contains built-in redundancy to increase reliability.

Wastewater System for the Community of La Playona (Isla Zacatillo, El Salvador)

Santiago Cruz-Roveda
Advisor: Steve Chiesa (CENG)

La Playona is a small community located on Isla Zacatillo, a small island off the coast of El Salvador. Currently, there is no wastewater disposal system for this community; the 300 people living in this community use outhouses or holes in the ground. The student designed a wastewater system that is gravity-fed and easy to maintain. The system was designed to last 15 years or until newer technology replaces the system.

Water Supply Development: Isla Zacatillo

Nathan Martel
Advisor: Edwin Maurer (CENG)

The student studied the water needs of the people of Isla Zacatillo and investigated rainwater harvesting as a sustainable solution to easing Isla Zacatillo’s water supply problems. The report studied rainfall patterns of the region, roof material and runoff, gutter sloping, downspout sizing, and cistern sizing and materials.

Non-Capstone Projects

Senior Center Assessment (City of Santa Clara)
Senior Center Assessment

Course: COEN178
Instructor: JoAnne Holliday

As a project in course COEN178, students developed a web-based database application to assess how well senior centers have incorporated key elements affecting successful aging into their client services and programs.

Interactive Exhibit Restoration at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo (San Jose, CA)

Through the One Step Ahead outreach program coordinated by SCU's student SWE chapter, engineering students worked alongside local high school girls involved in GAINS (Girls Achieving In Non-traditional Subjects) to repair non-functioning exhibits and worked on a design for a new exhibit.


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