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Creative designs on show for 2011 Endeavour Design Expo

Mohammad Taha's team devised a remote controlled braking systems for a child's bike, incorporating sensors to prevent the bike from hitting obstacles.

A final year student project can really take on a life of its own.

This is especially the case for a team of engineering students who have spent the past year designing and testing a load-carrying human exoskeleton that they now fondly refer to as “Skello”.

The exoskeleton was just one of over 100 projects on display on Thursday 27 October at the Endeavour Design Expo; a showcase of the final year work of students studying Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic, Infrastructure and Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Industry representatives, school students and the general public filled Wilson Hall and the surrounding precinct as the engineering students demonstrated a range of inventive projects.

Designs ranged from a smart thermal jacket that maintains a comfortable temperature for the wearer, to a remote-controlled brake for a child’s bike and a sanitation unit for communities in developing countries that captures gas from human waste so it can be used for cooking.

The team working on “Skello” gave themselves the challenge of designing and testing the device, which could potentially be worn by people working in the military or industry who were required to carry heavy loads.

“In most industries when you carry heavy loads, you need two people, or you need machines and they generally tend to be bulky. This isn’t, it’s very ergonomic,” said team member Sithumini Jayasundera.

Ms Jayasundera said that the team had spent nine months with their project, which had taken on character of its own, but that “Skello” still needed some further development before he was effective at carrying loads.

Another group of students devised a toolkit allowing apps to be developed for old-generation mobile phones in developing countries, which could then be used by doctors for diagnostic purposes. Team member Tim Cook said that the application toolkit would allow doctors to perform diagnostic tasks such as monitoring a patient’s heart rate by plugging a pulse oximeter into the mobile via USB.

School students from around Victoria visited the Endeavour Design Expo

“We’ve been working with Associate Professor Jim Black at the Nossal institute and he recently went over to Mozambique and he assures us that this sort of thing will be really helpful,” Mr Cook said.

“If people can use this toolkit to help people, I’m very happy with that.”
Another team was hoping to wipe out inefficient service at cafes using an infra-red customer locator to assist wait staff.

Team member Jasmine Yap said that often in large busy cafes, they observed staff who would circle the room a number of times trying to deliver orders to customers who may be seated in corners or have their table number hidden from view.

“It’s really inefficient and we’re trying to make it faster for the waiters to identify the customers,” she said.

Ms Yap said that customers would be given a small infra-red LED marker, which would flash in a way that was invisible to the human eye, but could be picked up by an infra-red webcam and displayed on a screen in the kitchen, showing the customer’s location.

The Endeavour Design Expo culminated in an industry night, in which professional representatives selected the best projects on display.

The projects that were awarded top honours for each department were:

  • Mechanical Engineering: Formula SAE Integration
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering: Tetris on Blackfin 548 DSP
  • Infrastructure Engineering: Modelling and Decentralised Monitoring of Mobile Agents in a Transportation Network
  • Software Engineering: Nossal Mobile Health Application
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