Tag Archives: engineering competitions

EE Senior Design: Body Area Network Design

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 7 December 2014

Every Electrical Engineering Senior is required to complete a senior design project of some sort before they are able to graduate. In our case, we were able to pick our team mates – a group of 5 friends since freshman year. Senior design projects are not limited to any particular project path, but our senior design project is unique in a special way.

The IEEE Antenna Propagation Society is hosting a contest where undergraduate students have the chance to assemble a team to design and create a Body Area Network (BAN) system. The contest requires that the team be no larger than 5 people and accomplish the following:


  • Create a BAN that monitors a user’s heart rate or has fall detection
  • Fabricate an antenna that communicates data to a smartphone via Bluetooth (2.4GHz) with a class 3 power rating (<1mW)
  • Display the received signal strength (RSSI) on the smartphone
  • Have a replicable product for less than $1500 USD.

In order to even qualify for the contest, the teams must complete all of these requirements. The selection rounds are as follows: first round is select the top six teams, the next round is the top 3 teams, and finally the winner.

We, the Ohio University BAN team, have submitted our proposal and have been selected of the top six teams in the world. In the previous year not a single US team was chosen, so this is an honor and an accomplishment for our team.

Currently we are working with many different types of vitals-monitoring sensors and integrating them into a small microcontroller circuit board. This is the first leap into the darkness for the project. With many more tasks to handle, we should be able to gain the knowledge to conquer and overcome obstacles. The goal is to win the contest and present our product to the world at the IEEE Antenna Propagation Symposium in Vancouver, so keep your eye out in the e-News Newsletter for our team in mid-April.

ASCE Steel Bridge Competition

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 November 2014

Every year the members involved in American Society of Civil Engineers participate in multiple competitions such as steel bridge, concrete canoe, environmental, and more. The competitions aren’t until March; however, we have to begin working now so that our teams will be ready for competition.

This year I am captain of our steel bridge team. For the steel bridge competition we have to design a 1/10 scale model of a steel bridge and every year the criteria are changed. This year we have to design a bridge that has an 18-foot clear span which means that the supports are only on the ends of the span. During the competition we are challenged to subject our bridge to various forms of loading.

To begin design we have to carefully read the rules. As a group we all suggest different ideas and begin to build off of them. This year we decided to go with a beam bridge design. As a group we are planning that we will use a built up T-member made from two L-members for the bridge decking. Our biggest challenge so far is to design the way to brace the bridge laterally. Lateral bracing is used to prevent side sway. After we decide what we would like to do for bracing our next step will be to make all shop drawings and then next semester we will begin fabrication.

SourceAmerica/AbilityOne College Design Challenge

Scott Kostohryz

Scott Kostohryz,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 26 June 2014 – After 4 years, I cannot believe my time at Ohio University is coming to a close after one more semester. After finishing my senior design project and submitting a report and video to the SourceAmerica/AbilityOne College Design Challenge, our senior design team (Team Flower Power) found out we were finalists. Our entire team was given the opportunity to fly to DC from June 16th – June 19th for recognition of the award.

Unfortunately only 2 of my 4 teammates could make it. Marissa Singley, Nick Reed and I had the opportunity to see the sites and sounds of DC. One of the best places we visited was the Air and Space museum. My favorite exhibit was the Wright Flyer which was on display.

Wright Flyer

Going out to Washington DC also gave our team the opportunity to meet the other finalists. One team was a group of undergrad electrical engineering and computer science students from Weber State and the other was a team of 3 graduate students from Oregon State University.

One of the most exiting and touching parts of the weekend was doing a simple team builder. We were placed in teams of 3 from different schools and given a bag of parts and a set of instructions. By the end, each team had a prosthetic hand to be given to a victim of a land mind accident in another country. It was a moving team builder where we all worked together to make a difference. Here is a link for more detail on the team builder: Sunrise – A helping hand for landmine victims.

At the end of the week, at a congressional reception, it was announced by Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers that Ohio University had won Best Overall Design in the AbilityOne College Design Competition. It is a great honor to have worked with such a great team, and bring recognition to Ohio University. I do not think that the 3 schools honored at the reception were the only winners. The true winners were the non-profit organizations and those with disabilities who were helped through this design competition.

ME Senior Design

A writeup on the competition, Ohio University, and the Senior Design Team can be seen at the Athens Messenger web site.

ASCE Ohio Valley Student Conference

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 March 2014 – This weekend is the Ohio Valley Student Conference, a conference where schools like Ohio State, Youngstown State, Pitt, and Ohio University compete in civil engineering based competitions.

You may have heard of the concrete canoe and steel bridge, but I’m part of a smaller regional environmental competition. Every year teams are challenged to treat a polluted sample of water that is relevant to current environmental policy issues. Competitions have included treating drinking water contaminated with manganese, hydraulic fracturing flow back water contaminated with toxic metals, and simulated storm water runoff with high levels of orthophosphate.

This year, we have been challenged to create a treatment system from materials available at any local hardware store to treat simulated flue gas desulfurization (FGD) water. The water is not actual process water, because high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide and toxic metals are present. The goal of the treatment process is to reduce the level of calcium present in the water and, if possible, reduce conductivity of the water while maintaining an acceptable pH.

The challenge is difficult, but necessary, as the EPA may begin to impose stricter outfall permits on FGD landfills. These landfills are part of all modern coal-burning power plants and are necessary to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide released during the combustion of coal. Chances are an environmental engineer working in the Ohio Valley region, known for its coal deposits, will work with FGD in their career. I’m excited to see all the different methods for treating this contaminant.

Preparing Our Concrete Canoe

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 8 December 2013 – During the past two years I have been involved with American society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and every year in March we compete against other schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky with our concrete canoes. Yes, we make concrete float and race them with up to 4 people in the canoe.

Although the competition isn’t until March, we spend the entire school year preparing by constructing a mold and designing a new concrete mix because the specifications change every year. The past two years we have tried to do something we have never done before. Last year we did an injection mold and this year we are using per stressed wires.

Per stressed wires is something we wanted to give a try but problems keep showing up for our first test. First, we had to come up with a way of keeping the wires from being pulled out of the concrete after the tension is released. We need to have some object attached to the wire that will not move and provide contact points throughout the concrete walls. So we decided to use crimping nuts.

Secondly, we need to keep the wires off the mold so that they are in the middle of the wall to provide the best strength. We have decided to use flat head screws and drill them into the mold at a desired distance and the wire will rest in the grove of the screw head. Finally, we need to add about 100 to 150 pounds of tension to the 18 wires. We have decided to go with using a turn buckle to reach the right tension. A scale model with all of our solutions will be conducted the beginning of spring semester.

Flying Bobcats at Region III Safecon

Grant Rhue

Grant Rhue,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 20 October 2013 – During the past week, the Ohio University Flying Bobcats had the honor of representing the Department of Aviation at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s (NIFA) Region III Safecon competition held this year in Battle Creek, Michigan. Thirteen team members competed, led by Coach George Armann. The team traveled to Battle Creek on Thursday, October 10th and spent the weekend practicing and becoming acquainted with the airport and the flight conditions there.

In addition to the OU Flying Bobcats, teams from Ohio State, Kent State, U. of Cincinnati, and the host university, Western Michigan, took part. Competition events during the week included flight planning, preflight inspection, precision landings, aircraft navigation, flight recognition, and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation.

Flying Bobcats

During the competition, we faced rapidly changing weather conditions that varied from sunny and warm to cold, blowing rain and low cloud ceilings. However, the Flying Bobcats are a dedicated group of individuals who proudly represent OU and are willing to go the extra mile. As you might expect, the Bobcats were undaunted by the weather challenges and they performed well against stiff competition. The team finished well in power-off landings, and our navigation team took home the third place trophy. For the fifth consecutive year, the Flying Bobcats received the Safety Award for outstanding safety procedures and practices. In the aircraft recognition competition, an event I enjoy, I finished second. Best of all, the OU Flying Bobcats qualified to complete in the national competition to be held in Columbus in spring 2014.

Flying Bobcats

This is my fourth year of competition and nationals in the spring will mark the last NIFA competition of my college career. But even after I’m gone, the Flying Bobcats will continue to represent OU with pride.

Steve Burns

Steve Burns,
Senior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 10 April 2013 – This semester two other ISE students and I were involved in an international computer simulation competition. The competition was a two month long project, put on by IIE (Institute of Industrial Engineers). We were given a problem statement about 2 months ago and along with some basic guidelines to follow. The top three teams from around the world, decided by a group of judges, get to travel to Puerto Rico to show off their projects with a chance to win first prize.

The problem statement was about a coal company’s coal shipping operation from three cities in the United States to four cities around the world. The overall goal of the project was to see if the current operation was successful and if not, then to provide a solution that will produce the lowest overall shipping costs for the company. The way we could change the operation was to change the number of ships that the company was using, and also route the ships differently around the world.

Animation was a big part of the judging for this competition. Below is a snapshot of the animation of our project. You can see some ships traveling from city to city, and the smaller screens are the individual cities where you can watch the ships coming into the shipping harbors.

Simulation Screen Shots

This project was a lot of fun to work on. The problem statement was full of small details that could greatly influence the outcome; such as weather causing shipping ports to close or the cost it takes a ship to travel through different canals. It also gave our team a chance to participate in the student expo here at the university, where students from any discipline across campus come and show off projects they have been working on throughout the year.