Category Archives: Electrical Engineering

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.

Android BAN Senior Project

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 16 March 2015

Here is an update on the status of my group’s current senior design project. So far our team of seniors–Morgan Haggerty, Trevor Vogelhuber, Levi Moore, Gordon Fleming, and I–have been nominated by a contest committee as one of the top six teams in the world. The contest we have entered is hosted by the IEEE Antenna and Propogation Society. Though there are more contest rules, the main ones are fairly straightforward: build a body area network (BAN) that consists one or more vitals-monitoring sensors, a microcontroller, a custom antenna, and an Android application.

In addition to being nominated to the top six, we have completed some major milestones in our design. We have custom fabricated numerous antenna designs through photolithography and have analyzed their radiation pattern on the spectrum analyzer. Also, we have temperature, heart rate, and fall detection sensors integrated on a central microcontroller. Finally, I am working on finishing up our Android application that will be able to display all the data collected from the sensors on the screen of an Android-enabled mobile device. The data transmission will be through a Bluetooth 2.0 (Smart Bluetooth) signal. This is a low-energy transmission that will allow power consumption to be at its lowest.

Our project is coming to a conclusion, and we hope to have a working product soon. Some final goals are to get the Android application running with all the rest of the system integrated and have the completed unit stored in a small enclosure for aesthetics.


Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 12 January 2015

This past Christmas break, I took a Eurotrip to London and the Netherlands. London caught me by surprise and Holland stole my heart.

London moved at such a fast pace, I couldn’t keep up! But we still made it to see the big sites. The London eye, London Tower Bridge, and Tower of London were the highlights. I got to see the crown jewels and the best view of London on the Eye.

Big Ben

I even got some James Bond pics by MI6 and made a stop at Platform 9 and ¾. I watched the Lion King near Covent Garden; their British accents made the show! We even happened to find an Abraham Lincoln statue near the British Parliament.

Platform 9-3/4

The pace slowed down when I visited family in Holland. Leiden, Delft, Gouda, and Amsterdam were all so beautiful–lots of water, of course! Everyone in Holland rides a bike; when I got on mine the first thing I did was fall off! By the time our three weeks were up, I could make decent turns.

While in Amsterdam, I visited the Anne Frank House. We waited 3 hours in the pouring rain in 35-degree weather, but it was well worth it! I attended a famous play, Soldaat Van Oranje, or Soldier of Orange. It was truly Dutch! Our seats rotated to the different scenes of the play! It even had real water with waves to be the North Sea the actors jumped into.

Oh yeah, the Dutch are crazy on New Years. Everyone, and I mean everyone, lets off fireworks in the streets! No laws or police to stop it! And for those of you that are Fault in Our Stars fans, I got to sit on the bench that Hazel and Gus kissed at in Amsterdam!

Fault in Our Stars

Given the opportunity to live in Holland, I would gladly take it! For now, I’ll just recommend that everyone take a visit not just to Amsterdam, but several of Holland’s smaller towns as well.

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.

Research with the Avionics Engineering Research Center

Natasha Norris

Natasha Norris,
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 3 December 2014

One of the many opportunities available to students at the Russ College is undergraduate research. I participate in research in the Avionics Engineering Research Center here at Ohio University. The Avionics Engineering Research Center is well known for its contribution to GPS navigation technology over the years.

My first project identified the effects of jammers on airplane GPS receivers. Jammers are also known as personal privacy devices; they emit RFI, or radio frequency interference to block a GPS signal and prevent the individual from being tracked. My current research uses a high-gain dish to look at a variety of effects on the GPS signal as it travels to the receiver.

I am utilizing MATLAB to create the code for data processing and satellite tracking from the high-gain dish. The program tracks one satellite for a specified time period. The narrow beam-width allows the dish to focus on one satellite at a time. The dish will track the satellite’s location from two line elements. Two line elements are orbital elements that describe the orbit of the GPS satellite. They will be used to compute the location of the satellite at a specific time and adjust the dish.

During tracking, the signal’s C/No (carrier-to-noise) ratio will be monitored to make sure the signal strength is accurate and the satellite number being monitored will be reported. After the raw signal is collected, the second MATLAB program will compute the distortions on the signal.

Co-ops are also a great opportunity to gain hands-on engineering experience. I have not participated in a co-op so far; I am debating whether I want to take one this summer or stick with research. Working with research in your undergraduate career can be as productive of an experience as participating in a co-op, you just have to figure out which one suits your career plan.