Carnegie Mellon University
October 07, 2014

Positive Impact: Creative Engineering at Innovation Palooza

Positive Impact: Creative Engineering at Innovation Palooza

CEE Assistant Professor Noh with her teamCEE Assistant Professor Noh with her team

CEE faculty and staff showcased their creative approach to problem solving last week as participants in the College of Engineering's first annual Innovation Palooza. The event featured faculty and student demos in fields ranging from facial recognition technology to kitchen chemistry, a performance by the Pittsburgh-based chamber ensemble Cello Fury, and a series of lightning talks by industry leaders, highlighting recent innovations in their current fields.

demonstrationCEE Associate Professor Hae Young Noh, along with members of her research team, including CEE PhD candidates Mike Lam, Mostafa Mirshekari, Shijia Pan, Ningning Wang, and Irem Velibeyoglu, demonstrated of her innovative new occupation estimation system. Their program, as part of a collaboration with CMU-SV professor Pei Zhang, uses vibration monitoring systems to localize and assess the occupants of an indoor space. Not only is the technology able to determine someone's location but also their height, weight and shoe size and it can tell whether or not they seem lost, dizzy or nervous based on changes in their gait pattern.

To demonstrate this technology in action, Noh's team had their sensors linked to a video monitor, allowing them to capture and display movement across the floor in real time. Event attendees walked, stomped, and tip-toed past the booth repeatedly, mesmerized by the system's ability to capture their movement on screen. The sensors were even able to detect the percussive vibrations generated by Cello Fury's performance at the other end of the ballroom.

ug teamCEE students impressed the crowd with their entries in the Impact-A-Thon contest, in which teams were challenged to devise a solution to a real-world social problem-specifically, the shortage of homeless shelters during winter months. Seniors Dolly Hsu, Chris Kim, Michelle Krynock, Hannelie Mostart, and Yang You had five days and $250 to build their prototype. Using wood, bricks, and insulation foam board, they created a prototype system of interlocking units. These individual units could be employed as needed in order to increase an existing homeless shelter's maximum capacity. The use of bricks, heated in ovens throughout the day, would provide an efficient and affordable source of heat for these temporary shelters.

teamCEE senior Alejandro Gonzalez teamed up with electrical and chemical engineering students to build a shelter that, in addition to providing an economical solution, would specifically accommodate individuals with handicaps. Their prototype featured a combination of cots and hammocks that could accommodate up to fifteen people per shelter. This eco-friendly model used cork as its low-cost insulating material, and would tap into the city's public lighting system to satisfy its minimal energy requirements.

Event co-director and Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Jon Cagan said he devised the Impact-A-Thon contest to enhance the students' learning experience by engaging them in creative, purposeful problem-solving. "We wanted students to recognize that they are capable of solving hard social problems" he explained, "and emphasize that they can change the world in a positive and meaningful way."

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