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