2012-2013 Projects

1. Team 1: Infant Respiratory Rate Monitor, Team 2: Incubator Temperature Control System

Dr. M. Moreno, (BMEN)

Desired Majors: BIOEN, MEEN, CHEN, ELEN

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 1.1

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 1.2

Our Goal is to develop an oxygen analyzer that will improve the safety and cost-effectiveness of medical oxygen concentrators in developing countries. The EWH Projects That Matter documents compiled following extensive interviews of hospital staff and EWH volunteers based in developing countries. Development of a low-cost and reliable oxygen analyzer for oxygen concentrators was one of the high priority projects identified. Oxygen concentrators are devices that scavenge oxygen from the air, effectively concentrating oxygen levels to greater than 21%. They are typically employed as a cost-effective alternative to compressed oxygen, or whenever the latter presents a significant safety hazard (e.g., military or fire/rescue situations). Commercially available devices range in cost from approximately $500 to upwards of $5000, depending on the desired features. To reduce cost, many of the cheaper models do not provide an on-board oxygen concentration indicator (i.e., oxygen analyzer). Unfortunately, without an oxygen analyzer to report the actual measured oxygen concentration output, medical staff or patients operating their devices from home are unaware if oxygen concentrations drop dangerously low. Thus, there is market potential for a low-cost (< $100), stand-alone device designed to interface with an oxygen concentrator. We believe that successful completion of this project could result in a significant increase in the quality of healthcare for some of the more impoverished regions in the world, as well as establish markets for a low-cost adjunct to commercial oxygen concentrators in the developed world.

Spring 2013 Poster - Infant Respiratory Rate Monitor

Spring 2013 Poster - Incubator Temperature Control System


2. Universal Surgery Light Bulb Replacement; Spectrophotometer

Dr. K. Maitland, (BMEN)

Desired Majors: BIOEN, MEEN, CHEN, ELEN

The two projects come from the Engineering World Health: Projects that Matter Legacy Projects list: (i) A Universal Surgery Light Bulb Replacement and (ii) Spectrophotometer. Legacy projects are design challenges that previous groups have achieved some progress, but still require a significant amount of work to produce appropriate solutions. Students on each of these two design projects will be required to conduct an extensive prior art search, brainstorm potential solutions individually and as a team, and work through the design process to develop and prototype a solution.

Universal Surgery Light Bulb Replacement

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 2.2

From my recent experience visiting hospitals in East Africa, a major challenge in developing world hospitals is obtaining replacement parts. For example, simple light bulbs for surgical lighting are expensive, nearly impossible to find locally, and in some cases not available anywhere due to the age of the lamp. A universal surgery light bulb designed to provide sufficient light for a surgical setting, be dependable in a wide range of environmental conditions, and have a long lifetime would have a significant impact on surgical practice in the developing world. The students will investigate a low-cost, efficient light source with a simple construction design that will work in a variety of environmental conditions and with as wide a range of multi-bulb surgery lamps as possible.

Spring 2013 Poster - Universal Surgery Light Bulb Replacement

Spring 2013 Executive Summary- Universal Surgery Light Bulb Replacement


AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 2.1

A spectrophotometer is a clinical laboratory device that uses multi-wavelength light to analyze a clinical sample. Spectrophotometers are expensive and heavy, use complex optics and light sources, and are easily misaligned, rendering them useless. A basic spectrophotometer designed with a simplified light source and optics may be sufficient for measuring hundreds of different compounds relevant to developing world healthcare. The student team will design and develop a robust, low-cost spectrophotometer capable of withstanding the conditions of the developing world hospital. Reliability of the instrument is a critical design specification to provide timely and accurate diagnoses for clinical tests relevant to the developing world.

Spring 2013 Poster- Spectrophotometer

Spring 2013 Executive Summary- Spectrophotometer

3. Developing Next-generation Wastewater Treatment Technologies

Dr. K. Chu (CVEN)

Developing next-generation wastewater treatment technologies - The students involved in this research project will explore and develop novel engineering technologies to improving nitrogen removal and to recovery energy from wastewater. The research is related to two Grand Challenges: Manage of nitrogen cycle identified by the National Academy of Engineering and Create the next generation of sanitation technologies articulated by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.

Spring 2013 Executive Summary

Spring 2013 Production of Microbial Lipids from Wastewater poster

Spring 2013 Bacteria Encapsulation from Wastewater Treatment poster

4. Autonomous Mobile Picocell Sensing

Dr. J. Chamberland –Tremblay, Dr. G. Huff,(ELEN)

Desired Majors: ELEN, CVEN, MEEN, ISEN, AERO

“Smart Systems for Smarter Infrastructure”

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 4

This project addresses a fusion of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges entitled “Restore and improve urban infrastructure” and “Engineer the tools of scientific discovery.” The tentative title of this project-based activity is “Smart Systems for Smarter Infrastructure” and it addresses the hands-on design of sensor modules for the non-destructive testing and monitoring of urban infrastructure, the testing and evaluation of these modules on a scaled truss structure in the laboratory, the development of algorithms which can interpret this information to train predictive models, and a proof-of-concept deployment of these modules in a field-like demonstration. The overarching design challenge to students in this project will be to engineer a modular and automated system-of-systems that can improve the energy efficiency of wireless and HVAC systems, automatically schedule preventative maintenance, and potentially detect serious damage before failure occurs. Major hands-on activities will include: the development of wireless mobile sensor networks which can be added during construction or retrofitted to existing infrastructure; the acquisition and real-time processing of structural, electromagnetic, and environmental data and storage on a remote server; and the generation of training input from this data for analytical models and multi-physics computational analysis tools.

Spring 2013 Poster

Fall 2012 Final Report

5. Low Cost Solar Concentrator with Energy Storage

Dr. C. Madsen, (ELEN)

The purpose of this project was to develop a prototype solar monitoring system that could be used to monitor a photovoltaic system. When implementing the use of a photovoltaic system, it is imperative to have the ability to monitor the system and its components. By monitoring the system, one can detect any faults that may arise and work to eliminate the cause of any deficiencies in order to optimize overall performance and system output. These monitoring systems are often too expensive to purchase and the cost may not be feasible for a system only made up of one or a few panels. In this project we worked towards developing a low cost photovoltaic system monitor that would monitor solar intensity, temperature, and photovoltaic system output. For this semester of the project, the focus was on monitoring solar irradiance as well as system output. The system output specifically regarded the battery which would be used for energy storage.

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 5

Spring 2013 Executive Summary (A Low Cost and Efficient Solar-Thermal System)

Spring 2013 Poster

Spring 2013 Executive Summary (Optimizing Solar Thermal Water Heaters for Low-Income Applications)

Spring 2013 Poster

6. Prevent Nuclear Terror

Dr. J. Yates, (ISEN)

Project 1

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 6.1

"Decision Support Tools for Strategic Fiscal Analysis" will provide a complete strategic planning tool for short, mid and long-range decision-making in matters of nuclear security. As outlined in the September 2009 GAO Report to Congressional Requesters, a major thrust area in planning and evaluating nuclear weapons security policy and procedures seeks to put greater focus on the clear and consistent analysis of alternatives and threats. Various branches of the US government agencies employ some of these tools to varying degrees, but their use is neither uniformly nor holistically applied. This project will require students to understand concepts embedded within Industrial and Systems Engineering (economic analysis, project management, systems engineering), Nuclear Engineering (radiological safety, nuclear engineering systems and design, nuclear detection), Computer Programming (visual basic for applications, java, human-computer display) and Business (accounting, finance). The final outcome of this project will be a fully functional decision support tool with graphical user interface run on multiple platforms (Microsoft Excel using VBA, Java Applet).

Spring 2013 Poster

Spring 2013 Final Report

Project 2

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 6.2

"Nuclear Material Storage Site Selection Using Geo-Cyber Analysis" will combine facility location and site selection methods to analyze appropriate locations for the storage of nuclear materials, including spent fuel and radioactive waste, under multiple criteria. This project will combine traditional techniques in facility location (mathematical modeling, network optimization) with spatial analysis tools and Geographic Information Science (GIS). In developing appropriate tools for the siting of nuclear material storage facilities, students will need to understand how physical and cyber nuclear security systems work, what constitutes a threat to nuclear facility sites housing nuclear waste, what conditions are necessary and sufficient for the storage of hazardous nuclear materials, and how environmental and geographic factors impact location suitability and vulnerability. Additionally, the developed models will integrate social/demographic and cyber connectivity as these elements present a unique challenge for locating nuclear facilities. New nuclear material storage facility locations must balance the location’s potential for cyber exposure with its physical (geographic, environmental) vulnerabilities. Students on this project will work to develop measures for site suitability and facility vulnerability as well as mathematical models for the location of a single nuclear materials storage facility and a set of nuclear materials storage facilities.

Please visit the Industrial and Systems Engineering AggiE_Challenge website for more information.

Spring 2013 Poster

Spring 2013 Final Report

7. Reverse-engineering the functioning of the sensorimotor cortex of the human brain

Dr. R. Langari, (MEEN)

The complexity of the human brain and its multitude of control and information processing functions constitute a significant challenge to both science and engineering. The proposed study addresses a subset of the functions of the human brain, namely the motor control function performed by the combination of the sensorimotor cortex in conjunction with the musculoskeletal system. The motor control function itself involves both high-level planning as well as detailed trajectory generation in view of the complex and multi-degree-of-freedom redundancies of the human limbs. For instance, during an arm reaching motion, the optimal hand path and arm postures are determined from among the infinitely many possible candidates and translated into appropriate signals to the musculoskeletal system. The human brain further controls the reaching motion in presence of various uncertainties and disturbances without conscious effort. Perhaps the most significant feature of human brain remains its motor learning aspect. By observing ‘How human brain learns a novel movement and trains the limbs to be skillful’ and ‘how we can adapt/compensate our motion to achieve the original intent when our arm is subjected to a physical constraint’, the governing mechanisms of motor learning can be identified. The acquired knowledge can be utilized to develop advanced planning and control algorithms for prosthetic devices that mimic the functioning of natural limbs.

Spring 2013 Poster

Spring 2013 Final Report

8. Material Selection for Transparent Lithium-Ion Batteries

Drs. P. Muhkerjee / H. Liang, (MEEN)

Desired Majors: MEEN, ELEN, CHEN

The overarching goal of this project is to explore the design and fabrication of transparent batteries building on the principles of nanomaterials for solar cells and 3-D electrode architectures for lithium-ion batteries. Typical materials used in lithium-ion battery electrodes, e.g. LiCoO2 and graphite, are good absorbers below a typical length scale (e.g. 1 micron). However, energy storage and power capability of LIBs is a complex design optimization problem depending on the thickness and areal footprint of the electrodes, which make the battery materials non-transparent. The apparent dichotomy, emanating from the length-scale dependence of material transparency and energy storage capacity, can be resolved by incorporating the concepts from nanomaterials with improved optical properties for solar cells and innovative 3-D electrode architecture design with optimum feature size and footprint area within the absorption limit. The proposed research aims to expose the students to the grand challenge of solar energy exploitation and effective energy storage strategies, as articulated by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), through a multidisciplinary approach encompassing nanomaterials synthesis, fabrication and design building on the sound fundamentals of solar energy physics and physicochemical principles of energy storage.

Spring 2013 Poster

Spring 2013 Final Report

9. Sustainability Through Energy Efficiency

Dr. B. Rasmussen, (MEEN)

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 9

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 9.2

The proposed project seeks to address the grand challenge of a sustainable energy economy. Despite the tremendous advances in alternative and advanced energy generation technologies, energy efficiency and energy conservation remain the most economical method of creating a sustainable energy economy. Conserving one kilowatt is nearly always less expensive than producing one. This proposal will pursue two specific projects with potential for significantly reducing energy usage in commercial, industrial, residential sectors. The first student team will design, construct, and evaluate a device for automatic fault detection in air conditioning systems. This device will build upon recent research results to create a commercially viable product, and then evaluate its capabilities on campus buildings and regional industrial facilities. The second student team will design a camera and image processing system capable of identifying the number, type, and quality of building lighting systems, and automatically determine the optimal lighting retrofit. This tool would enable quick efficient auditing of building lighting systems; future research will combine this technology with unmanned aerial vehicles to enable autonomous building energy audits.

Spring 2013 Poster - HVAC Diagnostics

Spring 2013 Executive Summary - HVAC Diagnostics

Spring 2013 Poster- Image Recognition

Spring 2013 Executive Summary- Image Recognition

Image Recognition brochure

10. Clean Water for All

Drs. A. Srinivasa and D. Ranjan  (MEEN)

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 11

Global warming will likely have a severe impact on the potable water supply in much of the world. The New York Times, August 22, 2006 reports that more than two billion people now live in areas with acute water shortage (“Need for Water Could Double In 50 Years, U.N. Study Finds.”). Especially in drought prone semi-arid areas of India, there is an acute shortage of drinking water forcing people (mainly women and children) to bear the burden of trekking long distances to fetch water.

The aim of the proposed activity is to build a high efficiency, low cost solar/waste heat water still that can be deployed in rural areas to purify or desalinate water. This addresses two major NAE grand challenges (1) making solar energy more economical and (2) providing access to clean water. The project team comprises three faculty from Texas A&M, led by Dr. Srinivasa with skills in design, surface chemistry and fluid dynamics and two faculty from IIT Madras, India one (Dr. Mahesh) working on droplet condensation and the other (Dr. Vedantam) working in design.

Spring 2013 Poster

Fall 2012 Final Report

11. Access to Clean Water through Polyelectrolyte Based Membranes

Drs. N. Zacharia / J. Grunlan, (MEEN)

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 10

Availability of potable water is quickly becoming one of the most serious problems facing the world. Although 2012 has seen more than average rainfall for Texas, more than 55% of counties in the United States have officially declared as being under drought conditions. Even with the recent rainfall, much of Texas is still officially under drought conditions. Much of the water used in Texas is drawn from underground aquifers and as these supplies run low the water is drawn from deeper depths and is more brackish. As fresh water supplies dwindle, desalination of salt water will become an important activity in more and more parts of the world. Reverse osmosis and distillation are the major desalination processes, with reverse osmosis generally requiring less energy. Reverse osmosis processes have several stages, all of which require separations membranes. At this point of development, membrane performance is the number one factor in how efficient the reverse osmosis process can be.

Fall 2012 Poster

Fall 2012 Final Report

12. Effectively Interdict Highly Enriched Uranium Smuggling

Faculty Team Lead: Dr. S. Chirayath (NUEN)

Faculty Team Members: Drs. W. Charlton, D. Boyle, A. Solodov, and M. Adams (NEUN). Dr. G. Gaukler (Mays Business School; former ISEN)

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 12 - 1

AggiE-Challenge 2012 - Team 12 - 2

The AggiE_Challenge project proposed here addresses one of the grand challenges articulated by the National Academy of Engineering, namely, “Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism.” Only a few tens of kilograms (kg) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) are required to build a nuclear bomb but more than one million kg of HEU exists in the world. A concern is that HEU could be stolen and smuggled into the U.S., either as HEU or as a nuclear weapon, for acts of nuclear terrorism. Securing the U.S. borders against attempts to transport HEU is a national priority. Current nuclear material detection technology is inadequate for several important HEU smuggling scenarios. One of the most difficult challenges is the interdiction of shielded HEU being smuggled into the U.S. in cargo or a vehicle.

Spring 2013 Poster #1

Spring 2013 Poster #2

Spring 2013 Final Report

13. Sustainable Simultaneous Energy Generation and Wastewater Treatment

Dr. Yu (MEEN)

Dr. Han (ECEN)

Our project is to develop a sustainable electricity harvesting system with microbial fuel cells using novel electrodes made of low-cost highly-efficient 3D multi-length scale porous matrix nanomaterial for simultaneous electricity generation and wastewater treatment. This self-sustainable hybrid system will use microbes from wastewater as biocatalysts to produce electricity. This project aims to construct prototype scale (1-10 L) of microbial fuel cell systems with nanomaterial electrodes as well as design power management circuits and wireless modules units for demonstrating sustainable electricity generation, storage, and utilization. The system will be operated with real wastewater obtained from Carter's Creek wastewater treatment plant in College Station so that students can have opportunities of simultaneously producing renewable energy and clean water. This system has great potentials in providing energy solutions for developing countries. This sustainable energy harvesting concept is part of a currently supported Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Exploration Project. This project provides undergraduate students with opportunities to engage in multidisciplinary team projects addressing one of the most important engineering challenges to our society, both locally and globally.

Spring 2013 Poster

14. The Computing Wiki

Dr. Furuta (CSCE)

This project aims to create a Wikipedia-like software-development reference intended for use by non-computer specialists. The initial area of application will be humanities scholars. Drawing inspiration from The Big Event and from crowdsourcing, we will have the bulk of the content produced by volunteer groups of computer science students in one-day-long events. The AggiE_Challenge team is building the Wiki infrastructure needed to support these groups and working on needs assessments to determine what topics need to be addressed. As enabled by these activities, future semesters will coordinate short term, intense, events to bring together Computer Science and English student volunteers to create the Computing Wiki resource.

Spring 2013 Poster

15. Developing a MOOCS Platform for Online Personalized Learning allowing Sketch Input

Dr. Hammond (CSCE)

The objective of the project is to develop a platform that can be used across several courses, enabling instructors to draw their ‘key’ solutions, and have their students’ solutions compared with the key. Secondly, we will establish both high- and low-level feedback to give the students incrementally based on their drawings. To ensure that the platform is flexible across domains, it will be initially tested and made to work with Japanese language learning, chemistry diagrams, and statics diagrams.

Spring 2013 Project Description

Spring 2013 Poster