Category Archives: Electrical Engineering

Senior Design Drone Development

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 10 December 2015

As the semester comes to a close, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on the work that has been completed on my senior design project.

The final drone design is to be composed of a set of functions that can be visually seen in the picture below.

Drone Project


  1. The drone must be placed into a known environment and checked by the operator to make sure it can safely operate.
  2. After the safety checks have been completed, the drone will take off under manual control and scan the area to calculate its surroundings.
  3. After successful take-off, the operator will switch to semi-autonomous mode of operation (i.e., drone moves by itself under supervision of the operator).
  4. The drone will continue to navigate through the hallway, while checking for heat signatures and avoiding possible collisions.
  5. If the drone detects a non-normal heat signature, an alert will be sent to the user for further investigation.
  6. The user will determine if the heat signature is relevant and decide if the drone should continue searching. Regardless of the decision, an image will be captured and stored for later observation.
  7. The drone will continue to search until the user commands it to return,
  8. or when the batteries run low and the drone must return.

Construction of the drone took place in the middle of the semester. We started with a Blackout 330 frame and mounted all of the basic drone components on (motors, propellers, battery, receiver, etc), as you can see in the picture below.

Drone Project

Test flights were performed using the basic system to ensure functionality. I am excited to return back to Ohio University after break, because next semester we will be working on attaching the lasers for semi-autonomous navigation, as well as the infrared and RBG cameras.

Preparing for Finals

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 4 December 2015

The finals are coming! The finals are coming! This is a statement that stresses out any student. I have already noticed an increase in the number of students holding late night study sessions in the ARC.

So, how do you prepare for finals week? There is no exact answer–it depends on the student. But from my own personal experience, DO NOT CRAM! Many students wait until the day before to review for a final but this is extremely inefficient because your brain is incapable of retaining a whole semester’s worth of information in one day. It’s impossible! Do not try!

Instead, plan ahead two weeks before finals. Know what days your finals are and prioritize studying time for each class. At least start reviewing 4-5 days before your test for best retention and complete at many practice problems as possible.

If you have projects due finals week, try to complete them the week before or else they will just add to your finals week stress!

Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! It’s vital to a successful test! Do not go into a test without sleep as it will often lead to doing worse than if you hadn’t stayed up all night studying.

If all else fails and you are stuck with 24 hours to prepare for a test, know your weaknesses and focus on these areas. Obtain as much coffee as possible!

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Cross-Cultural Leadership

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 16 November 2015

Senior year has many perks, but my favorite is that (typically) your course load lightens. While scheduling for fall semester, I found that I only had nine credit hours of classes I had to take in order to graduate on time. I needed to fill another three credit hours in order to remain a full time student, so I had the opportunity to explore classes outside of the engineering domain.

Due to my interest in international business, I decided to take a course called “Cross-Cultural Leadership and Management”. In this course, we analyzed the similarities and differences in leadership and management systems, processes, and styles, as well as evaluated the changes and the resulting impact across countries and regions of the world.

Learning how national culture influences management practices and organizational members’ behaviors has impacted the way I’ve dealt with interactions in my engineering senior design group. In the group, there is a Brazilian exchange student who utilizes a different management style than that of students from the US. Taking this course allowed me to become aware of the contextual differences between the two cultures and taught me how to interact effectively across the different cultural contexts.

Interviewing for an Internship

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 October 2015

Last week, I traveled to Nashville, TN for my third national Society of Women Engineers Conference and for the third year in a row, I was going to try to get an interview with the Boeing Company and hopefully, an internship.

I believe I was third in line to talk to Boeing when the career fair doors opened. It is such an intense feeling handing a recruiter your resume because you never know their personality and which cards you should play. I’ve had a few bad experiences and a few good ones, and this just time was one of the good ones.

The recruiter asked me a few questions about my resume and then concluded with “Why Boeing?” And I don’t believe I’ve ever given a more honest answer. I told her Boeing is on the top of my list, I’ve always wanted to work for Boeing. The first time I flew, I knew I wanted to work with planes and as I grew older, I knew it had to be Boeing. Your company is the number one supplier of planes to the world; you give people wings. Why not Boeing? It’s the best!

I don’t believe I’ve ever had a bigger smile on my face and fortunately, she had one too. I scored an interview.

They conducted a STAR interview. But, after the interview, they wanted to know my questions.

This is always a turning point in an interview; my advice is to always ask questions. It is an opportunity to show off your knowledge of the company and they can learn more of where you might fit through your concerns. I made sure I had a few questions lined up for the interview that were honest.

I must have impressed because 4 hours later my phone was receiving a call from Seattle, WA. I ran out of the restaurant and almost cried when the lady told me I had the internship! Dream come true! I had worked so hard to work for this opportunity all through my undergrad and it was finally paying off.

In conclusion, I just want anyone going to an interview to be completely honest with themselves and the recruiter: why do you want to work HERE? Why are we made for you and you for us?

Also, if you do not get the interview on the first try, like I did my first two SWE conferences, keep trying. Do not settle with a company you do not like, or if you do end up somewhere other than your desired company, still strive to make your dream company job happen. Yay Boeing!

Institute of Navigation Conference

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 18 September 2015

This past week, I attended the Institute of Navigation Conference in Tampa, Florida. This is the first conference I have attended related to my research in avionics navigation. I co-authored a paper with my advisor discussing our research related to a high-gain dish antenna data collection of GPS signals. Moreover, the purpose of the conference for me was to realize if going into avionics navigation research was the right area of study when I go into graduate school next Fall.

I sat through a variety of presentations, from using the magnetic field combined with Wifi for locating yourself inside a building to a variety of ways to analyze the GPS signal and code. I was overwhelmed with all the knowledge and research being presented, but I definitely realized that this is what I want to do in graduate school.

The variety of topics got me excited for my future in research. I found there were so many problems still in the navigating world; though this might not sound like great news to you, it only sounds like I have more research to do to find solutions, which is wonderful to me.

While attending the conference, I noticed how few women were in attendance and that I was the only undergraduate attendee. On the first day, this intimidated me. First, these are the top engineers in navigation, how could I ever hold a conversation and seem at least a little intelligent? Secondly, I had never really experienced a situation before where I felt like a minority as a woman in the engineering world.

But as the conference went on, I had encouragement from everyone I met to continue my studies in navigation. Many told me stories of how they started and that I needed to remember that they had been in my seat before and it can only go up from there. They also encouraged me to attend a Women in Positioning, Navigation, and Timing meeting; the meeting encouraged women early in their PNT career to continue working and empower themselves.

Not only did I benefit in my research from this conference, but I grew in confidence in my knowledge, I learned that there is so much support in the navigation field for women, and I am sure about my path to avionics navigation research for my future graduate studies. This trip became the most beneficial experience I’ve had in my engineering career, and I extremely thankful to Russ College for this opportunity.

Designing a Drone

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 15 September 2015

As an Electrical Engineering Senior, you are required to complete a yearlong (two semester) senior design course in order to graduate. In this course we are divided into teams and given a project to work on. For my project, my team has been assigned the hedgehog indoor-search-and-rescue drone.

The objectives of this particular project are to design and implement a design on a hedgehog-style drone that will enable it to do multiple required tasks. The drone must navigate through indoor hallways of Stocker basement without crashing. The drone must achieve autonomous flight, meaning that it will fly on its own for the most part, but have the ability to be taken over by an operator at any point.

The drone must also collect and store data that is taken by an infrared camera that will be attached to the drone. The data will later be used to create a 2-D map of the environment. Finally, the drone must use the infrared camera to locate heat signatures and analyze if the specific signature is a person or not.

This summer I had the opportunity to get a head start on the project by working as an undergraduate researcher for Ohio University’s Avionics department. I took a look at the specific lasers that will be used for our project to help the drone avoid collisions. I created code that enabled the lasers to have basic functionality with a Raspberry Pi, and we will be furthering this code as we begin moving forward with the project. I’m excited to see how the project progresses.

COUNT Seminar to Benefit my Research Work

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 1 June 2015

I recently traveled to Dayton, Ohio for a 3 day COUNT short courses seminar. I attended to learn more GPS-related topics to put towards my research. COUNT stands for Consortium of Ohio Universities on Navigation and Timekeeping. Professors and researchers from Ohio State University, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Miami University, and Ohio University discussed and presented on several key components needed to understand timing and navigation.

The seminar I found particularly interesting was the lecture on how a GPS receiver actually computes your current position. The lecturer walked through each step from receiving the GPS signal from your antenna to actually seeing your GPS signal above the noise floor. (The power level of the GPS signal is much lower than that of noise.) From there, your receiver can pull the GPS data because it is visible.

After the seminars, we found time to explore Dayton. We visited Press Coffee shop near the Oregon District of downtown Dayton. Delicious! Then we headed to Yaffa Grill. It had the best Mediterranean food I’ve ever tasted in the United States. I would definitely stop to eat there if you’re in the area. I even made a friend from downtown Dayton.

I’m fortunate to have these opportunities for travel through the Russ College and my research position. I wouldn’t have obtained these opportunities without being active in the Russ College community. Some advice from one college student to all future/current college students, make sure you become active in your college community. You never know what opportunities you’ll find through the connections you make.