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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Student Success

EWB recognized for work in Peru

Race to Excellence

UTSA engineering students win Freescale Cup Car Racing Competition

A trio of engineering students from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) won the first place in The Freescale Cup USA Central Regional Finals competition held at Texas State University on April 11, 2015. This win advanced the team to the USA National Final that was held at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York on May 2, 2015.

“I was really excited to see our efforts [to build a smart car demonstrated] in motion and paying off, in addition to [an opportunity to see] the products produced by all the other colleges,” said Patrick Stockton, a student member of the UTSA Cup car team. “Work between the team was very fluid and was a major factor in being able to take first at Central Regionals. It’s been a great way for students like us to become familiar with embedded systems and control.”

The Freescale Cup Challenge began in 2003 when 80 teams of students competed at Hanyang University in Korea. The competition has grown considerably since then, and now takes place at campuses across the world. According to the Freescale Cup website, the “spirit of the competition is that students demonstrate excellent hardware integration and superior programming.”

“All of the teams begin the build with about the same basic kit to design the car, which includes a small, plastic race car body and wheels,” explains Bob Applonie, student and chief programmer for the UTSA Cup car team. “Assembling the Cup car was not too hard of a task, but what set our car apart was its ability to assess different situations, and adapt based on conditions we programmed onto the microcontroller board.”

Applonie continues on to explain if the team’s car was met with a steep incline on the course, it could read whether the wheel motors have come to a stop and then apply a greater current to them.

“It again reads whether this level of current made a difference, and if it stays at a standstill, [it] will continue to exponentially increase drive power,” he adds.

This spring, all of the UTSA Freescale Cup team members took Microcomputers II instructed by Paul Morton, lecturer III with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Throughout the course, Dr. Morton extensively covers the FRDM-KL25Z microcontroller board to demonstrate hands-on use with embedded controls.

The FRDM-KL25Z microcontroller is a small, credit card-sized circuit board produced by Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. that can be programmed through a laptop or computer to do a number of tasks such as powering LED lights, running motors, or reading information from a small camera. All of these tasks were used to run the Freescale Cup car throughout the competition.

The Freescale Cup cars are built with the Freescale FRDM-KL25Z microcontroller board set in the center of the plastic housing of the race car, which is then programmed through a computer to make the car move and turn on its own without using a remote control. The KL25Z board (the small computer built into the car) is then also programmed to run the car autonomously and follow a black line that spans the length of the race track. This black line is recognized by the Line Scan Camera that faces toward the front of the car and discerns whether it should continue forward or veer left/right to maintain a view of the guide line. How fast each team can accomplish this with their car around a pre-built track determines the winner of the competition.

—Ruben Asebedo/College of Engineering

EWB recognized for work in Peru

EWB recognized for work in Peru

The University of Texas Engineers Without Borders student organization received a Distinguished Service Award this spring at the Texas Partners of the Américas Gala for their work in of Vina Vieja, Peru, for their work in Peru to facilitate the construction of a reliable, locally sourced water system owned and operated by the residents

Roadrunner Racing

Doc student places in research competition

Biomedical Engineering doctoral student Mirunalini Thirugnanasambandam won 2nd place in the doctoral portion of the Ready, Set, Research! Competition held April 3, 2015. Six colleges and 25 programs were represented in the competition, where students are challenged to present their research in 3 minutes or less. Thirugnanasambandam presented her research Rupture risk of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms.

ECE students show their skills in Colorado

Students in the Department of Electric and Computer Engineering participated and showcased their engineering skills in the Perseus III technology demonstration held at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, this spring. The goal of the demonstration, sponsored by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Office, is to challenge students to examine emerging technologies that may be of significant interest to the Department of Defense. In particular, the task this year was to build an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to collect data on a potential target and design a defensive capability to protect a target from a small UAV. The UTSA team was led by Drs. Pack and Akopian.

Ph.D. candidate wins 1st at ASEE-GSW

Hossein Roshani, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, won the first place Graduate Student Paper Award at the 2015 annual meeting of American Society of Engineering Education- Gulf Southwest (ASEE-GSW) conference held in San Antonio earlier this spring. The paper, who was co-authored by Samer Dessouky, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was titled “Feasibility Study to Harvest Electric Power from Highway Pavements Using Laboratory investigation.”

ASCE/AISC places 1st regional Student Steel Bridge competition

ASCE/AISC places 1st regional Student Steel Bridge competition

The University of Texas at San Antonio Steel Bridge Team placed first in the 2015 ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge regional competition held at The University of Texas, Austin in January. UTSA topped fourteen university teams from Texas and Mexico.

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