Deadline: Wednesday, 19th February. Registration is closed.


Engineering Clinic Projects
“Prototype MGG Pyrotechnic Auto Loader”

This team will develop a electro-mechanical machine that autoloads pyrotechnic material into Autoliv’s Micro Gas Generators (MGG) for prototype use. You will be provided with a material that has equivalent handling characteristics (particle size, density, etc.), but NON-pyrotechnic for the project development. These MGG’s are the pyrotechnic ‘engines’ that are then install into various pyrotechnically operated devices such as seat belt pre-tensioners, hood-lifters, and airbag systems.

Advisor: TBD

Team composition: 5 MEs or 3 MEs and 2 EEs

Cadwell Laboratories
“Wireless electrical stimulator”

Clinical neurophysiological testing uses an electrical stimulator to depolarize nerves for evaluation of the integrity and health of the nerve, associated muscle, or motor end plate. The stimulus is synchronized with a data acquisition system to allow measuring conduction velocity. An example is testing for Carpal Tunnel syndrome where the median nerve at the wrist is stimulated and the APB muscle (thumb muscle) is monitored. The Cadwell Stimtroller has an active and reference electrode, 5 programmable buttons, and a rotary scroll wheel for changing intensity. The stimulus is generated in the base unit, and the controls are all ‘fly-by-wire’ inputs to the stim generator. The proposed project is to implement a wireless stimulator to eliminate the cord running from the testing instrument to the stimulator. The wireless equivalent would have similar features as the wired predicate, but would, in addition, need to generate and control the high voltage needed for stimulation, and would need to communicate with and stay synchronized to the base unit.

Advisor: Prof. Walker

Team composition: 5 EEs or 3 EEs and 2 CEs

L-3 Communications
“Distributed Estimation or Compressive Sensing”


Advisor: Prof. Mathews

Team composition: 5 EEs

“Nanophotonic sensor development”

Moxtek makes nanophotonic structures for consumer and military electronics applications. The purpose of this project is to explore the application of these structures to methods in biosensing. One application is in the real-time detection of molecular binding, for which a microfluidic flow cell is coupled to a nanophotonic structure, and changes in spectral light transmission are measured as sample is flowed across the sensor surface. Another application is in detecting molecular fingerprints using Raman scattering, which requires high resolution optical spectroscopy and analysis of spectral peaks. The direction of the team will be based in part upon the background and interests of the students.

Students must have taken or take ECE 5410.

Advisor: Prof. Blair

Team composition: 5 EEs or 3 EEs and 2 MEs

“Pressure Transducer Cal-Com Device”

Quartzdyne manufactures the industry‐standard quartz downhole pressure transducer and hybrid electronics for the oil and gas industry. Calibration of the instrument can take 5‐7 days under changing conditions of pressure and temperature to characterize the entire range of each device. This is done in stirred oil baths and with deadweight pressure generators. A single bath can hold up to 20 transducers and the signals from these transducers are muxed to a single point so that the frequencies can be counted with high precision counters. The goal of this project is to distribute precision counters in a “single piece” fashion so that each transducer has a “cal‐com” device. This device will be self contained, will log data to a database, and will respond to commands from the calibration supervisor computer. This project will simplify data acquisition during the process of calibration, allow constant monitoring of each device under test (looking for quality issues) and allow other engineering tests to be completed faster.

Advisor: Prof. Walling

Team composition: 5 EEs or 3 EEs and 2 CEs

Reliable Controls Corp.
“21st Century Automation for Heavy Industry”

The aim of the project is to find the optimal way to drive a rock crusher. The team will be divided into two groups to develop competing electrically- and hydraulically-driven systems. Reliable Controls will provide roll crushers and all other equipment needed. The students will specify, design, and implement control systems to drive the electric and hydraulic actuators. State-of-the-art instrumentation and control hardware will be used to automate and supervise these systems, with the goal of identifying which system is more energy-efficient, provides the highest reliability, and delivers the best power/torque combination given the objectives. Reliable Controls expects students to be driven, creative, passionate, and self-motivated in order to bring an innovative solution to a critical industrial challenge.

Candidates should be willing to travel regularly to Reliable Controls at 999 Murray-Holladay Rd to perform experimental work. ECE students must have taken or be taking ECE 3510 and ECE 3600.

Advisor: Prof. Bodson

Team composition: 3EEs and 2 MEs

Rocky Mountain Power
“Teaching “The Duck” to Fly in Utah”

The daily solar PV power generation curve is well known. It rises to a peak at solar noon, and returns to zero at sunset. Lesser known is what this generation pattern does to the electric utility’s daily generation curve at high solar PV penetration levels. This curve is sometimes called “the duck.” The problem revealed by the duck family of curves is the high non-solar generation resources and ramp rates required of the utility in the summer just before the sun goes down when customer load is at its peak and solar is quickly waning. There are many options for flattening out the non-solar generation required through a hot summer day. This is sometimes called, “teaching the duck to fly.” Each option has its benefits and costs.

This team will: study possible options (both load and generation) for teaching the duck to fly; study Utah cultural, political, environmental and economic factors related to generation and load; generate a software model that captures these factors; and recommend and report on the optimal model that will teach the duck to fly in Utah.

Students must have taken or take ECE 3600 and ECE 5610 or 5620.

Advisor: TBD

Team composition: 5 EEs

Sandia National Laboratories
“Electrical impedance tomography data acquisition”

With America’s aging infrastructure, it is important to monitor our bridges, buildings, and aircraft, among other structures, for signs of degradation that may lead to their failure. Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a spatially distributed sensing methodology that is used to determine the electrical conductivity across a spatial region in 2D or 3D by measuring potential across multiple electrode pairs in response to an applied current. Changes in conductivity can be used to indicate a complex strain distribution in a part, an impact location of an object colliding with an aircraft wing, or the penetration of a bullet through a soldier’s body armor. In this project, the team will continue with the development of a dedicated data acquisition unit for EIT measurements. The system should be capable of taking voltage measurements for up to 32 EIT electrodes (896 total voltage measurements) in less than 1 second. The data acquisition unit should be interfaced with a GUI in either MATLAB or LabView.

Advisor: Prof. Schmid

Team composition: 3EEs and 2 CEs

“Emergency portable landing zone system”

This project is to develop a rapidly-deployable landing zone lighting system for use by emergency first-responders. Often an emergency situation requires helicopter landing and takeoff, but ground and weather conditions are not always amenable to this response. The landing zone system consists of six independent “beacon” modules that are laid out in a specific spatial pattern and emit high-intensity LED light. The modules must be synchronized to implement a specific blinking pattern that is recognizable by the pilot.

Advisor: TBD (contact is Chris Eyring, pilot)

Team composition: 2-3 EEs and/or CEs

Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty Projects
Faculty Project: Prof. Cynthia Furse
“Tattoo Antennas for Implantable Medical Devices”

Implantable medical devices touch virtually every major function in the human body. Cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, neural recording and stimulation devices, cochlear and retinal implants, etc. Wireless telemetry for these devices is necessary to monitor battery level and device health, upload reprogramming for device function, and download data for patient monitoring. Antennas are inevitably one of the largest if not the largest component of the telemetry communication system and are generally mounted on or in the implanted battery pack, usually in a body cavity. This limited real estate significantly constrains the performance of implantable antennas and results in substantial power loss in the body. Lost power means lost transmit distance and lost battery life.

The proposed research will fundamentally change the design of implantable antennas by tattooing (nearly invisible) conductive nanoparticles in the skin and adjacent fat layer at the body surface, coupling passively to the implant. The antenna will be able to use as much surface area as needed, and dramatically reduce the transmission lost in the body tissues. 

Faculty Project: Prof. Berardi Sensale-Rodriguez
“CW THz Imaging”

Objective : Enable THz imaging capabilities in a continuous wave (CW) terahertz spectroscopy setup.

Methodology : (i) Develop a spatial light modulator via photo-excitation of carriers in semiconductor materials as the platform for THz imaging (i.e. spatially control the amplitude of the THz beam). (ii) Integrate this with an existing CW THz spectrometer in order to perform THz imaging in reflection and transmission mode. (iii) Implement coded aperture algorithms to enable image compression at the moment of acquisition. (iv) Study the tradeoff between speed, spatial resolution, and noise of the system. 

Faculty Project: Prof. Mike Scarpulla
“Topics in semiconductors”

1) We use deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS), a time domain technique, and admittance spectroscopy, a frequency domain technique to measure traps in solar cells. Our current setup only allows one cell to be measured at a time but our samples typically have 6-7 cells. Keithley instruments is interested in helping us parallelize the measurement by loaning a switch matrix for testing and demonstration. Duties would include adding wiring to our cryostat for multiple samples then integrating using MyDAQ and Labview a LCR meter and the switch matrix for admittance spectroscopy and the switch matrix, a lockin amplifier, and a programmable DC voltage source for DLTS as well as developing a data analysis program in Matlab. 1-3 students

2) Develop a genetic algorithm approach for the inverse problem of constructing and fitting the parameters of an equivalent RLC circuit having multiple parallel and series RC and RL sections to model the complex impedance response of an unknown circuit (in this case a solar cell). 1-2 students.

3) Simulate drive level capacitance profiling (DLCP) from devices using Matlab. This involves calculating the capacitance response of a pn junction containing trap states with varying AC bias. Different depths in the junction are probed by adding a DC voltage offset. This technique has been shown to separate traditional dopant states from trap states with larger activation energy as well as trapped charge at interfaces from spatially distributed states. Neither of these can be done with traditional CV profiling. The methodology of calculation exists but a modern code does not. Developing such a code would assist those working in semiconductor characterization around the world as well and be of interest to instrument companies such as Agilent and Keithley. 1-2 students.

4) Implement thermal capacitance and total integrated current using Labview and MyDAQ. In both techniques the sample is held at cryogenic temperature and exposed to light and then the temperature is raised slowly. In the first measurement the capacitance is measured using a capacitance bridge to yield the characteristic energies of the trap states measured and in the 2nd a current-integrating circuit would be built and the total charge stored in the trap states measured for absolute calibration of their number. 1 student per technique.

5) Implement modulated photocurrent using modulated LEDs. The in- and out-of phase current of the sample is measured in response to the light from LEDs of various colors driven with a DC plus small AC modulation. The different color LEDs probe different physical depths in the sample while the frequency of the AC modulation and temperature probes the defects’ energy levels. The LEDs are driven by a function generator, the temperature is controlled by a cryogenic temperature controller, and the sample response is measured with a lock-in amplifier. LABVIEW and MyDAQ will be used to integrate the measurement and Matlab for data analysis. 1-3 students.

6) Implement photoacoustic absorption spectroscopy using Labview and data analysis using Matlab. Photoacoustic detection allows the measurement of very weak light absorption in a sample from sub-bandgap states and also allows this measurement on samples with metal contacts such as thin film solar cells. This will require testing and possibly repairing the electronics on an existing photoacoustic detector, modifying labview code to gather the data, and then analyzing the data in Matlab.

7) Design and improve our solar cell fabrication process. Participate in thin film deposition and annealing processes, contact deposition, and solar cell testing. Use the results to improve the process to make more efficient solar cells. 1-3 students.

8) Simulate the effects of laser annealing on semiconductors using COMSOL finite element software. We need to add phase field modelling to our existing EM and heat flow simulations in order to simulate processes such as melting and solidification of semiconductors and the phase transformation from insulating to conductive states in VO2 devices used by Prof. Sensale-Rodriguez for THz modulation. 1-2 students.

9) Implement using MATLAB a model of point defect equilibrium in semiconductors which requires simultaneously solving a system of exponential and integral equations self-consistently given constraints. 1 student.

Faculty Project: Prof Mike Scarpulla & visiting Prof. Vipul Kheraj
“Automated Dip Coating Deposition System”

My research group in MSE and ECE works on depositing thin films of semiconductors for use in solar cells and understanding and improving their properties in order to improve the solar cell technology. We have developed a method for chemically depositing thin films of CdTe and CZTS but need to automate the process for improved properties and uniformity.

This is where you come in: designing a deposition system which can repeatedly dip and withdraw the samples in a succession of chemical solutions at programmed velocities and hold them for certain times. The different solutions would be held at different temperatures. In an advanced implementation, the solutions could be topped-off from individual syringes or pumped reservoirs as a function of time or even based on liquid level measurement or weight of the beakers as they are used. Minimally, it will have one vertical actuator and either a linear or rotary axis in the horizontal plane to switch solutions. The system will be automated with Labview or another programmable interface to execute arbitrary user-defined recipes.

Faculty Project: Prof. Mike Scarpulla & Dr. Brian Simonds
“Phase Fields in Finite Element Simulations of Laser-Material Interactions”

My research group in MSE and ECE works on depositing thin films of semiconductors for use in solar cells and understanding and improving their properties in order to improve the solar cell technology. One of our thrusts involves irradiating semiconductor layers with high powered lasers in order to anneal and change their properties.

This is where you come in: We have some existing 2D and 3D simulations of the interaction of lasers with materials (COMSOL or Matlab optical simulation) and the resulting heat flow (COMSOL heat diffusion equation). We need to add the capability to simulate phase changes induced by the heating – for example if the sample melts the properties of the liquid are different than those of the solid and thus the optical and heat flow problems are dynamically coupled. The best implementations use phase fields – a scalar field with associated PDEs which can change continuously between the different possible phases. The COMSOL package has this capability but implementing and verifying the fully coupled optical/thermal/phase model will be challenging but feasible.

Faculty Project: Prof. Jeff Walling
“Improvements to the Class-G Amplifier Architecture”


Faculty Project: Prof. Jeff Walling
“Digital Signal Processing for Switched Capacitor RF PAs”

In this project we will expand the efficiency benefits of the switched-capacitor PA (SCPA) by improving the linearity and spectral performance of the SCPA. To do so we will implement signal processing techniques in an SCPA (e.g., digital filtering, dynamic element