Carnegie Mellon University
March 15, 2019

Design and Build

By E. Forney

E. Forney
  • College of Engineering
Project-based events bookend winter break for students in the College of Engineering. Mechanical Engineering students presented group projects at the MechE Design Expo in mid-December. Electrical & Computer Engineering students and those from other disciplines used their first week back this semester to design and build a team project for Build18. Here are some highlights.

Grill cheese making robotAlexa can do almost anything for you with voice commands, assuming she has the right gear. Mechanical Engineering students Evan Hill, Mitchell Riek and Taylor Tabb set up a rig that can suction bread and cheese to move sandwich components to a conveyer belt. The sandwich ends up in a panini press, down a chute, and into the hands of the hungry person waiting at the end. Video by Taylor Tabb; animated gif by E. Forney.

Hojun Byun, Junwon Chang, Alvin Shek, Venkata Vivek Thallam, Yang Yue, all ECE sophomores, created an arm attachment for an air hockey table that senses and predicts where the puck will be.

Gif of ping pong table
A group of master's students, Stamatios Athiniotis, Edward Bruge, Michael Brough, from Mechanical Engineering and the Integrated Innovation Institute created a machine that will help you improve your return in table tennis, not unlike a serving machine you might see on a larger tennis court. Video and animated gif by E. Forney.

Image of football team
Lior Barhai, Justin Belardi, Alex Byrnes and Nicholas Calzolano, students in Mechanical Engineering and Alex Byrnes, a senior in the School of Computer Science, worked  to create a smart, mobile net to speed up football practice. The Real Megatron can adjust its location in real-time to better catch a football that is thrown to it. This team won the Build18 Lab Rat Award for interesting concepts.

Image of people looking at a white board
Qianyi Chen, a junior in psychology; Candia Gu, a junior in ECE and Human-Computer Interaction;  Sarah Hempton, a senior in mechanical engineering; and Shanel Huang, a junior in electrical and computer engineering worked together to create a colorful light panel called the miniFighter, which reacts to human proximity. Visitors could move a hand or their head near the board to light a path, illuminating and re-coloring the squares in a rainbow pattern. This group won the Build18 Builders' Choice Award. 

Image of a laptop with additional hardware
ECE seniors Ethan Bless-Wint, Wai Sing Ching and Michaela Laurenc along with Alisa Chang, a senior in computer science, created the Enig-Much Better Machine, a cryptography system that improves upon the flaws of the Enigma Machine used by German forces in World War II. The original machine ciphers messages, swapping each instance of the same letter to a different letter to create what appears to be a jumble. However, the Enigma Machine would never randomly pair the same letter (e.g. A could never map to A in the encoded version of the message), making the message decryption easier to predict. This group won the Build18 Officer's Choice Award for their improvement.