When people talk about group project opportunities for Viterbi students, no example stands out more prominently than the senior capstone design class. Every Viterbi student is required to take one final project based class towards the end of their undergraduate careers as a final culmination of everything that they learned. As a second semester senior, it was my turn to finally step up to the plate and show off what I’ve learned throughout my computer engineering and computer science curriculum.
The class I am taking is called EE459: Embedded Systems Laboratory and teams’ tasks this year is to build some sort of embedded device for recreational activity. It’s a topic broad enough such that every team can put their own spin on it; I’ve seen some super interesting project proposals ranging from a flotation device for stranded surfers to a pedometer that engages in storytelling with its users.
My team, consisting of myself and two other CECS seniors, are building a “smart” rebounder. Our device will include a 3-D printed chute that sits under a basketball hoop and a control box that is in charge of rotating the chute based on a basketball player’s position. The player will be wearing a headband that holds a set of infrared LEDs that the control box’s infrared cameras will be able to detect and track accordingly. Based on where the player is, our smart rebounder can effectively recover the ball for the player without them having to leave their shooting stance! We are also working on a separate iOS app that will allow a coach to upload a shooting sequence via bluetooth to the rebounder, forcing the player to make shots from more than one spot on the court.
In pre-COVID times, teams would have an entire lab section dedicated to meeting with their team and actually building a prototype to show off at the end of the semester. Now, however, the focus is more on designing and our team is really making it work for us. We still meet with Professor Weber, the professor leading this class, and he’s been able to provide invaluable feedback. We’ve even had project parts delivered to each of our team members working on a specific part of the project. In my case, I’ve had the bluetooth board shipped to me and have been actively developing both the bluetooth and ios app part of our project. We’ve even been able to get together and work on PCB design over zoom. Pictured is our schematic for the main PCB that will be in the control box!
I hope that I’ve been able to shed some light on this class that has been such a core part of the engineering curriculum in Viterbi for such a long time. I’m super excited to see where this project goes and it will undoubtedly be something that I will talk about far after I graduate.