Category Archives: Electrical Engineering

How OU has Changed Me

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 27 April 2016

With graduation only days away, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on how the last four years I’ve spent at Ohio University have affected me as a person.

Coming into Ohio University, I was very timid and soft-spoken. I had a difficult time putting myself out there because I generally kept to myself. I remember taking an introduction to ethics course and the final for the class being to present your beliefs on ethics to the class. (I actually had considered dropping the class, that’s how badly I disliked speaking in front of people.)

Back then, presenting in front of a classroom was the end of the world for me. Not only because of my anxiety of public speaking, but also due to my belief that what I had to say didn’t always seem that important.

The following years I spent at Ohio University changed my opinion on personal voice and, also my life, for the better. I went on to join Theta Tau, the professional engineering fraternity on campus. Through this, I gained friendships that I know will last me a lifetime.

I focused heavily on putting myself into situations that were out of my comfort zone, which gave me the opportunity to grow as an individual. I made sure to put everything I had into my studies, which lead me to obtain a Co-Op at L-3 Communications in Cincinnati, Ohio. I took the experience from there and brought it back to school with me, and applied it to classes.

But, the most important aspect of my college career comes from the opportunity of participating in Engineering Ambassadors. I was nominated for the position at the end of my sophomore year and performed the duties during my junior and senior years.

The position requires strong speaking skills, which as I discussed earlier weren’t as developed back then. I remember that during my interview for the position, I expressed that while my speaking skills may not be as impressive as the fellow applicants, my overall passion to better those skills was immeasurable.

The opportunity to speak with prospective students and parents strengthened my interpersonal skills in unimaginable ways and just the ability to lead students into a direction that will ensure success is extraordinary.

My voice was given purpose and pushed me to pursue opportunities that otherwise would have been unobtainable, and for that I can thank Ohio University.

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 18 April 2016

As the semester comes to a close, I can officially say that I have completed my senior design project. At the start of the year, I was assigned to design a hedgehog style drone that uses laser rangefinders to semi-autonomously fly around the basement hallways of Stocker and the underground steam tunnels around campus in order to find a person or steam leak via an infrared camera.

During the course of the project, the goal changed to deliver a drone with an integrated data collection system to be further progressed by graduate students in the following years. As I have learned, and many will find out, project scopes tend to change over the duration of the project. Problems constantly arise and the group must adjust the project accordingly. Our final tangible deliverable is a blackout 330 frame based integrated system, with custom wiring and a custom laser/Arduino Uno holding box that sat underneath the frame.

The system utilized the LIDAR-Lite v2 lasers connected to an Arduino Uno. The Arduino Uno is then connected to an Odroid, which collects and processes the laser data. A wireless access point has been created on the Odroid so that the ability to SSH (secure shell) into the drone is possible. Through the SSH, users are able to view the laser data remotely. A hardware flowchart (including future additions) can be seen below.

Flow Chart

Following the entire engineering design process, from paperwork to actual product, has been tedious, but extremely beneficial. Overall, having the opportunity to work on a project like this has been a life-changing experience.

Lifelong Learning as an Engineer

Ali McCormick

Ali McCormick,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 29 March 2016

With my decision to further my education after I graduate from Ohio University, came the thought on the importance of lifelong learning. And while lifelong learning is important for all people, I thought specifically about why it is imperative for engineers.

The world around engineers is ever changing. The beginning of engineering culture had an expectancy that engineers could dive into a specific area and remain there for as long as they desired. As technological advances accelerate, engineers are required to switch jobs more often. As a student at Ohio University, I have learned that the key to success lies in a solid foundation with a constant desire to build and apply. Specifically, in senior design, we focused on the engineering process.

Through change, the process stays the same but we must mold it to apply it properly to new situations. In the process of doing so, we are learning about the new and build this onto our foundation.

Through Ohio University, I have learned that in order to be successful, you must introduce yourself to new things often and apply them to the old. I have learned to never be afraid of the unknown, as the unknown often holds the key to professional and personal enhancement.

It’s said that the higher you reach, the harder you may fall. And of course you can never reach so that you never fall, but the reward for that is nonexistent. Change is imperative for self-improvement. A person must constantly evolve with the ever-changing world around her, otherwise she may inhibit her own success.

Helping My SWEsters Grow

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 23 March 2016

This year, the Society of Women Engineers of Ohio University established a mentor/mentee program for incoming freshman female engineering students. The program offered guidance, support, and encouragement from upperclassmen female engineering students. SWE hoped to help increase female retention in engineering. I became a mentor to two freshman engineering students, Gabby and Kayzsa. Actually, we recently had an article published about the SWE mentor program featuring Gabby and Kayzsa.

Previously, in SWE, I’d only advised a large group as president my junior year. Working one-on-one with people is a whole different experience; its a way more personal experience. I am fortunate to have gotten to see Gabby and Kayzsa grow not just as engineers, but as people as well.

They probably don’t realize it, but they have helped me grow as an individual, too. They came to me with their homework questions, we attended a regional conference together, had several coffee dates, and I got to know what motivated them to be in engineering.

Both of their backgrounds really interested me. Gabby came to me undecided, and I helped her realize she should join the dark side, Electrical Engineering. Kayzsa has really grown in confidence and expanded her horizons at Ohio University; she was recently elected as Vice President of SWE! And Gabby was elected as head of the mentor/mentee program next year and continues to be heavily involved in her sorority.

After I graduate, I will stay Bobcat SWE member! And I have full confidence that Gabby, Kayzsa, and the next generation of SWE will continue growing the SWE program within Russ College.

Building your Bobcat Family

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 22 February 2016

It’s a scary thought that I will be graduating at the end of April. Several of my friends are moving onto jobs and a few are attending graduate school. I have chosen to pursue my Ph.D. at the Ohio State University. But, I will greatly miss Athens, Ohio. The fresh food, the outgoing and unique personalities, and beautiful campus have all made my undergraduate experiences the greatest experiences of my life.

I am thankful to Ohio University for my knowledge in Electrical Engineering, but what I am most thankful for is how it helped me grow as a person. I could go on about how I learned responsibility, time management, and know circuits like the back of my hand. But what has been most impactful was learning how to enjoy my life and where I see myself in the future.

In my freshman year, I was the student who let my courses consume my life; my logic design book became my pillow. DO NOT BECOME THIS PERSON! Grades are important, but so is your happiness.

I began to loosen up once I traveled to Greece for a University program. Dr. Vassiliadis, a professor in EECS of Russ College ran the program. Like the true Greek he was, he encouraged me to explore and not just focus on the project.

After taking his advice and opening up to Thessaloniki, I saw how the people of Greece just enjoyed life; completely different from my fast paced life. This trip started my adventure in finding balance between happiness and focusing on homework. I began making more time for friends.


After several late night electronic homework sessions, trips to Ginger, and several blacklight parties, your classmates start to become your family.


My advice to any incoming freshman—or if you start late like I did—do not spend your whole college career focusing on your academic knowledge. College time flies by, and if I could go back to freshman year and do it all again, I would! Make friends and take time to learn what makes you happy; college is the perfect time to explore who you are.


Next year, when my Bobcat family is broken up across the United States, we will still have Athens and those experiences are irreplaceable.

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!