Senior Design is Kind of Fun

…it actually has been really, really fun.

Seniors in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) department, get to choose a year-long project to work on with a team. We started this semester, and it’s been great so far.

The group consists of five Electrical Engineers, one Computer Engineer (AKA ME), two graduate students and a faculty adviser/client. We meet every week to talk about what needs to be done and our progress, as well as generally work on things. Each of us have separate tasks, but come together when we need to.

Our project is a combination of many components that together make an imaging system for precision agriculture for a set of 32 small greenhouses. Now, what does this mean exactly? Each component does different things such as:

Water irrigation system: expand a given water irrigation system from 16 pumps to 32 pumps (enough to cover all 32 small greenhouses). This is my designated task; I’m in charge of all the programming to make that expansion, and another member is in charge of the hardware implementation. Below is an example of the 16 pump system that takes water in and the other takes it out to said plant that needs watering.

LED lighting system: develop an LED lighting system capable of adjustable light intensity within the growth chamber.

Soil sensors: create an improved and simple design of sensors to capture important variables for plant growth. This also monitors if the plant has been watered and update the irrigation system to act or not.

Temperature control: to create a system that controls the temperature in the environmental chamber (small greenhouse) for plant growth. Essentially, be able to control cold and hot air that goes in and out of each chamber.

Robotic arm: program a robotic arm to periodically take images of plant development (hence, “imaging”). For this, we have been looking at certain attachments to hold a camera to take pictures, but it also needs a programmed process to follow periodically. Below is an example of how said robot arm works.

Like mentioned above, all of this applies to 32 small greenhouses, so a lot of what we have to figure out is about identifying and acting with different conditions. Our goal for the spring is to have all components working individually and proficiently. Then, we’ll work on putting it all together for next semester.

What I really love about senior design is that I get to apply everything I have grasped over the years, but it also challenges me to learn, research, problem-solve – everything that keeps my mind active and interested.

If you want to know more about our project, you can visit our project website (which I’m completely doing from scratch, haha) right here. I update it constantly as new content and anecdotes come my way.

So, I guess I can say Senior Design has been kind of fun…

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