College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science


The mission of the Undergraduate Projects Laboratory (UPL) is to enhance undergraduate education by embedding special projects into the engineering curriculum.

Types of Activities

Activities of the UPL include design projects that are course-specific, design projects in the senior year, undergraduate research projects, participation in competitions, hands-on and minds-on projects designed by instructors, presentation and publication of papers of work in which undergraduate students participated, field trips, and other special projects. The topical emphases of a particular project depend on the needs of the students, the requirements of the curriculum, and the interests and expertise of the faculty involved.

Highly-qualified undergraduate students have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research with a faculty member as part of a curriculum-embedded undergraduate research experience (CEM-URE). For more information see this flier and application form.

Affiliated Faculty

Recent Projects

Energy Scavenging from Vibrations (Y. Liu)

In this project, students learn that energy can be harvested or scavenged from the surrounding environment, in sufficient quantities for use in powering embedded systems. In the laboratory, students design and build a system using Lego pieces and a piezoelectric buzzer that harvests energy from vibrations and uses the energy to charge a battery. Along the way, the students learn about dc motors, cams and gears, piezoelectric material, and circuits for charging. For a detailed description of this project visit IEEE Real World Engineering Projects.

Floating Balls: Determination of the Equilibrium Heights of Balls Suspended in a Vertical Jet of Air (J. Njock-Libii):

The average equilibrium height, h, of a given ball in a vertical jet of air is postulated to depend upon D, d, V, ρ, µ, and W, where D is the diameter of the ball, d the diameter of the orifice from which the jet emerges, V is the average speed of the air as it exits the orifice of the source, ρ is the mass density of the air, µ is the coefficient of absolute viscosity of the air, and W is the weight of the ball. This height depends upon seven different variables. But what is the relative importance of each variable? A technique known as “dimensional analysis”, discussed in lecture, was used to combine the seven variables, h, D, d, V, ρ, µ, and W, into the four dimensionless parameters:

Floating Balls Theorertical Equation

This very practical technique reduces the number of experiments to be done in order to learn the relative importance of the effects of the six variables on the equilibrium height. Students designed experiments to test these results and to determine the relative importance of the various parameters on the equilibrium height. Students had hands-on experience with drag forces, turbulent and laminar jets, vortex shedding, and the Coanda effect. They were able to observe the existence of critical flow rates above which the equilibrium height became unstable. See sample video clips (2:21 min) produced by the students.

    Recent Publications

    Books and Book Chapters

    • Josué Njock Libii, Wind Tunnels in Engineering Education, a chapter in Wind Tunnels and Experimental Fluid Dynamics Research, Edited by Dr. Jorge Colman Lerner and Dr. Ulfilas Boldes, Publisher: InTech, 2011.
    Journal and Conference Papers
    • J. Njock Libii and D.M. Drahozal, "The influence of the lengths of turbine blades on the power produced by miniature wind turbines that operate in non-uniform flow fields," World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, Vol.10, No.2, 128-133 (2012). 
    • J. Njock Libii and D.M. Drahozal, "Use of a miniature wind turbine with rectangular blades to demonstrate and confirm the existence of optimal angles of inclination of turbine blades at which peak power is produced," World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education, Vol.10, No.1, 35-40 (2012).
    • Y. Liu and C. Pomalaza-Ráez, "The Development and Implementation of a Freshman Engineering Project in Energy Scavenging," Proceedings of the 40th Annual Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, Arlington, VA, October 27-30, 2010
    • J. Carletta, P. Bhatti, T. Hartley, Y. Liu, A. Mitofsky, J. Smith, L. Wyard-Scott and A. Yu, Mini Workshop – Real World Engineering Projects: Discovery-Based Curriculum Modules for First-Year Students, the 40th Annual Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, Arlington, VA, October 27-30, 2010.
    • Y. Liu and C. Pomalaza-Ráez, "Concept Learning Embedded in a Freshman Engineering Project in Energy Scavenging," in Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on E-Health Networking, Digital Ecosystems and Technologies(EDT), Shenzhen, China, April 17-18, 2010.
    • Y. Liu, "Innovative Integration of Historic Books with Robotics Curriculum," in Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on Optics, Photonics and Energy Engineering (OPEE), Wuhan, China, March 27-28, 2010
    • S. S. Moor, P. R. Piergiovanni, and Mathew Metzger, "Process Control Kits: A Hardware and Software Resource," Computer Applications in Engineering Education, (In Press)
    • S. S. Moor, "Engaging Spaces for First-year Engineering: A Tale of Two Classrooms," Proceedings of the 2010 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Louisville, KY (June 2010).
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