The Senior Capstone Program in Engineering (SCOPE) is the culminating experience of an Olin student's education. Over the course of a full academic year, seniors work in multi-disciplinary teams to provide innovative solutions to private and public sector companies’ real-world problems. This collection includes reports and final work from past SCOPE projects.
The MITRE SCOPE team designed and prototyped a vision for collaboration at The MITRE Corporation. At its core, the vision set out to stimulate interoffice relationships and support spontaneous collaboration. To achieve this goal, the MITRE team assessed the technology readiness of pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, and context-aware information flow through the environment as applied to the problem space. The MITRE team developed a user-centered design process and prototype by exploring advanced concepts in proximity sensing, anticipatory knowledge delivery, interactive digital signage, and instant productivity tools. In addition, many emerging technologies were investigated, including identity management, proximity sensing, mobile user profiles, persona management, multi-modal interfaces and directed audio.
The Olin Raytheon/WHOI SCOPE team is assisting WHOI in the buoy design effort by writing software tools for managing the energy budget of a deployed buoy. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) scientists are constructing buoys for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), an NSF funded program that will construct a network of buoys for monitoring physical, chemical, geological, and biological variables in the ocean and on the sea floor. The buoys in development for the OOI by WHOI will be expected to operate for 25 years with annual maintenance. Power for an array of reprogrammable sensors will be dependent on a combination of solar and wind power generation and an on-board fuel cell replenished during the annual maintenance.
Microfluidics holds solutions to problems ranging from genome sequencing to point-of-care diagnostics. The Microfluidics Laboratory at Brandeis is studying a number of applications including protein crystallization and chemical oscillators. Under a MRSEC grant from the National Science Foundation, Brandeis is expanding user facilities. To that end, the Olin SCOPE team designed equipment for automated imaging of microfluidic chips. This project involved investigating current user requirements and problems, designing a system to meet them, and verifying the design by prototype. Key factors in this design were flexibility for future expansion as researchers' needs change, robustness for extended-duration experiments, and appropriate cost. This work is supported primarily by the MRSEC Program of the National Science Foundation.
Vision Robotics Corporation (VRC) is realizing a solution to the labor shortages that the fresh fruit market faces currently and will continue to face as immigration laws in the United States become more stringent. VRC is developing a two-robot system that will harvest fresh tree fruit. The first robot, the Scout, identifies and locates all fruit on a given tree. The second robot then uses that information to actually harvest fruit. The SCOPE team developed an actual picking device, or end effector, that can function as part of the fresh fruit harvesting robot. The VRC SCOPE team conducted field testing with a prototype and evaluated its strengths and weaknesses. Based on this evaluation, the team redesigned the mechanism used to remove the fruit from the tree. The team delivered a working prototype to VRC.
The DRS Technologies SCOPE team worked with DRS's Fermont facility to capture the excess energy that results from the testing of the generators they manufacture. With energy prices rising and growing concerns over energy in general, DRS identified the Fermont generator testing operations as an area where energy can be recovered. For the first semester of this SCOPE project, students analyzed the problem, evaluated possible solutions, and presented their findings to the company. The second semester of the project involved detailed analysis, modeling and vendor exploration for the solution selected at the end of the first semester.
Renewable energy is becoming more promising as a mainstream source of grid power, leading the Premium Power SCOPE team to investigate the possibility of bringing solar energy to Olin’s campus. Large-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems were examined, as well as large and small scale storage options, ancillary services and solar simulators. From this, the team concluded that large-scale PV and storage are not considered economical for Olin at this point in time. In addition, the team found that there was not sufficient knowledge or experience with PV on campus, and that providing a small-scale educational set-up would be valuable. To address this issue, the team designed and built a 440W, 4-panel solar array on campus as a demonstration and resource for future student projects.
The Boston Engineering SCOPE project is part of a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTR) grant from the Office of Naval Research that is held jointly by Olin College and Boston Engineering. The SCOPE team designed a biometric robot modeled after the tuna fish. The GhostSwimmer is a highly efficient and maneuverable unmanned undersea vehicle developed for a wide variety of missions. The Olin team was primarily responsible for the maneuverability and sensor portions of the robot; Boston Engineering is designing the propulsion system.
The Aurora SCOPE project is part of a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the Office of Naval Research that is held by Aurora Flight Sciences. The project focused on creating a physical demonstration of Aurora’s Onboard Planning Module (OPM). The OPM serves to coordinate missions between multiple autonomous vehicles. The final demonstration involved the coordination of three unmanned surface vehicles on a target identification and tracking mission. The Aurora SCOPE team supplied two of the vehicles for this demonstration. The targets were identified and tracked using a sensor package determined by the research of the students of the team. The sensor package chosen consisted of a 180 degree LIDAR and a camera vision system.
Today's wind turbines have nearly reached their maximum possible efficiency and are limited to sites with a narrow profile of wind patterns. The patent-pending Mixer Ejector Wind Turbine (MEWT) concept proposed by FloDesign promises to outperform existing wind turbines by a factor of three or more in a much wider range of wind resources. Olin College’s FloDesign SCOPE team was charged with an evaluation of potential drive train configurations for its planned 500 kW- 700 kW production model wind turbine. The first stage of the project involved 5-8 conceptual drive train configurations that were well suited to the unique features of the FloDesign wind turbine. Gallery sketches and documentation of the tradeoffs for each option were provided by the team and used to choose designs for further investigation. The team then tested the best concepts developed earlier through physical bench models. Olin College’s FloDesign SCOPE team was charged with an evaluation of potential drive train configurations for its planned 500 kW- 700 kW production model wind turbine. The first stage of the project involved 5-8 conceptual drive train configurations that were well suited to the unique features of the FloDesign wind turbine. Gallery sketches and documentation of the tradeoffs for each option were provided by the team and used to choose designs for further investigation. The team then tested the best concepts developed earlier through physical bench models.
Team Lexmark designed interfaces that enable users with disabilities or impairments to engage effectively with next-generation Lexmark workstations. The team learned how users interact with multi-function printer-copier devices and developed ways to make the functionality of these devices more accessible and usable. Their research focused on the contexts in which impaired users interact with devices. Team members engaged with users who had accessibility concerns and attempted to understand their needs in the workplace. The team developed an interface that provides a comfortable user experience.
The Raytheon / Phased Array Radar team worked on a proprietary project for the Raytheon Company related to the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). CASA was founded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the goal of revolutionizing the way we detect, monitor and predict atmospheric phenomena through the use of a large, distributed network of short-range weather radars which are able to sense low-lying weather phenomena.
The team focused on understanding the fundamental interactions between the physician and endoscopic instruments that result in successful surgeries. The primary objective was to make gaining and maintaining access to the biliary duct easier for the physician. To accomplish this objective, the team explored three key areas of ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography): equipment, procedures and training. The final concepts developed by the team show the feasibility of a new class of biliary access tools. They also produced scale-model, working prototypes for evaluation by physicians.
The Rockwell Automation SCOPE team worked to provide an out-of-box quality control sensor for automation applications. Quality control sensors need to provide fast inspection capabilities for factories to ensure continuous quality of products. The team also looked into business opportunities for the sensor in line with Rockwell Automation’s industrial customer base. The team optimized the current sensor and made improvements. They also explored market segments where the sensor could make a significant impact on a factory’s quality control and automation processes.
In order to reduce the negative environmental impact of obsolete electronic devices, the CloudBlue SCOPE team developed innovative uses for computer equipment at the end of its life cycle. The product design process included analysis of both technical feasibility and financial viability, while incorporating principles of user-oriented design and materials science. After examining many potential ideas for redirecting e-waste, the team refined a coherent product strategy to create revenue for CloudBlue by giving new life to old electronics. This strategy synthesized the team’s exploration of the most promising methods for extracting material from the waste stream and using it to manufacture new products for targeted end-use markets.
Mobile devices have quickly become the most ubiquitous and highly-valued consumer technology. They offer unprecedented portability, social interactivity, context sensitivity, and connectivity. As a result, there is a highly visible proliferation of mobile products and services appearing in the market. Pearson Education enlisted a SCOPE team to explore which mobile education services would be most useful to students and how these products fit into their mobile lifestyles. The Olin SCOPE team conducted ethnographic research on three different groups of higher education students and explored what self-study learning products or services these students will find most valuable. After developing product concepts in the first half of the year, the SCOPE team and Pearson Education developed a working prototype of the services and product. The students tested the prototype with students at local colleges to learn about opportunities for such a product in the current market
The Raytheon / Low Power Networked Radar team worked on a proprietary project for the Raytheon Company in collaboration with UMass-Amherst and the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). CASA is an academic, government, and industry partnership that plans to revolutionize the way we detect, monitor and predict atmospheric phenomena by capturing low-lying weather events through the use of a large distributed network of short-range weather radars.
Microfluidics promises solutions to problems ranging from genome sequencing to point-of-care diagnostics. The Microfluidics Laboratory at Brandeis is studying a number of applications including protein crystallization and chemical oscillators. Under a MRSEC grant from the National Science Foundation, Brandeis is expanding user facilities for microfluidics research. Last year, the Olin SCOPE team designed an automated microscope platform capable of imaging an area up to 100mm x 100mm with a resolution of 10 microns at 4.8 second per square mm. This year's team plans to expand functionality by adding thermal control to the chip station and developing the user interface for the imaging platform. The team will also incorporate both pressure driven and positive displacement (syringe pump) flow and initiate development of an automated emulsion maker which can formulate, generate, and store emulsions. Key factors in this design include flexibility for future expansion as researchers' needs change, robustness for extended-duration experiments, and appropriate cost. This work is supported primarily by the MRSEC program of the National Science Foundation.
The Linden Lab SCOPE project goal is to promote enrollment and retention of potential and current Second Life users. Second Life is a 3D virtual world developed by Linden Lab, full of user-created content that can be explored, sold, purchased, and shared. The project specifically is working on connecting existing and potential users with relevant and engaging content in Second Life. Key components of this project include identifying content that Second Life users would deem relevant to their interests and developing an effective way of making users aware of this content.
With the advent of the Internet, control systems have become more complex and more distributed, introducing a host of issues involving security and resilience. The IBM SCOPE project seeks to address these issues by creating a new network-oriented systems architecture for the design of secure, distributed, resilient control systems. This architecture complements and can leverage existing network and security architectures such as IP networking and IPsec protocol suites. This year, the IBM SCOPE team developed a working prototype of the architecture and used it to create a demonstration of a notional smart grid control system based on multiple independent policies.
The Microsoft Startup Labs SCOPE team designed a compelling product for "transitioners," defined as individuals moving from their undergraduate education to their first career job. The team followed a user-oriented design process with a focus on transitioners' use of social media and how it could be harnessed to improve productivity. The research included in-depth research of needs, concerns, and values through interviews, observation, and other ethnographic techniques. This was used to develop initial prototypes that was reviewed and evaluated by transitioners. Finally, the team aimed to design a high-fidelity prototype of the product, bearing in mind other Microsoft products and services.
The Boston Engineering SCOPE project is part of a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the Navy that is held jointly by Olin College and Boston Engineering. This year's efforts are a continuation of the 2008 - 2009 SCOPE project supporting Boston Engineering in the development of the GhostSwimmer, an autonomous biomimetic underwater robot modeled after a blue fin tuna. The Olin team’s responsibility is to aid in the development of modular sensor arrays, control and behavior algorithms, actuator selection and testing, and simulations to be integrated with Boston Engineering's robot platform.
Lexmark International enlisted a SCOPE team to develop two test devices for current printer systems. These were implemented to aid in generating a fundamental understanding for how various materials impact the system. This understanding, in turn, helped progress future printer technology development. The first device was utilized to measure the triboelectric charge, and the second measured the coefficient of friction of various materials incorporated in the system. The SCOPE Lexmark team developed electrical, mechanical, and control system designs for both.
Unmanned ground robotic systems have replaced humans in performing many hazardous missions in our country's current conflicts. These systems are largely teleoperated today, but will become increasingly autonomous. One possible role for future semi-autonomous ground robots is leading convoys of human-occupied vehicles. Inexpensive and accurate position and orientation detection of the lead craft are desirable to control the semi-autonomous vehicle. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory SCOPE team developed an affordable prototype system for the lead and follow vehicles to enable accurate control of an autonomous leader robot. This system integrated a variety of sensors in order to provide reliable and accurate position and orientation data. This work was sponsored by the Department of the Air Force under Air Force. Contract FA8721-05-C-0002. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Government.
The MITRE SCOPE team created tools to help leverage the corporation's network of professionals. Through developing a better understanding of MITRE's employees and partners, the team designed software interfaces that helped people connect and communicate. The team launched software prototypes on a social networking platform for use by MITRE and partners by the end of the year.
Fixation of stents in position in the GI tract is an ongoing issue. This may be especially true with stents that are covered with a polymer coating and those placed for benign conditions intended to be removed later. Peristalsis is considered by some to be a chief cause of migration. For example, in the esophagus, where strong peristalsis is present, esophageal stents can migrate into the stomach in as much as 20% of cases. Several approaches have been tried, though there is plenty of room for improvement. The goals of this project are to identify approaches to improving fixation or migration resistance in stents, model peristaltic forces, and compare the proposed approaches to migration resistance in the model. Approaches that allow atraumatic removal of the stent are preferred.
The Draper SCOPE project is a collaboration between Draper Labs and Olin College with the end goal of creating an unmanned ground vehicle to support robotics research at both Draper and Olin. This year's project focuses on converting an all-terrain vehicle to drive-by-wire control. Secondary goals include designing a modular payload system, continuing development on a cross-platform LabVIEW robotics toolbox and laying a foundation for all-weather and all-terrain autonomous operation.
The MathWorks SCOPE team worked to identify and develop an affordable solution that would allow students and professors to interface lab hardware with MATLAB and Simulink. The team researched current hardware and software platforms used in academia. Based on this information and user studies, the team built a prototype solution applicable to courses in introductory engineering, mechatronics, and controls. The final result was a device design that enabled students to easily access the power of The MathWorks software while learning key concepts of physics, robotics, modeling, and control.
Team Grill, a local startup company, specializes in the design, production, and decoration of high-end gas grills. What makes these grills special? These bright colored grills showcase the logo of your favorite collegiate or professional sports team with high performance grilling capabilities and user-friendly features such as extendable shelves and concealed control panel. Team Grill’s SCOPE project was twofold: it focused on developing a “child-safe” ambient-temperature design and mass-customization decoration technology. The goal of the “child-safe” technology was to reduce the surface temperature of the grill lid. The second facet of the project developed technology that will allow consumers to order grills with professionally applied customized images. These two projects helped Team Grill expand its brand recognition in the field of high performance grills.
MIT and Olin College have formed a joint team to enter the next DARPA Grand Challenge. Together, we have submitted a proposal to DARPA and won a fully funded grant to enter the race. Olin students working with external faculty and graduate students from MIT's CSAIL, as well as professional engineers from industry, will design, build, test, and debug an advanced unmanned robotic vehicle. This vehicle will undergo a series of pre-race qualification events and then be entered into (and hopefully win!) the third DARPA Grand Challenge Race.
Pratt and Whitney uses "station probes" to measure pressures and temperatures in the gas path of gas turbine engine subsystems, including the fan, low-pressure compressor (LPC) and high-pressure compressor (HPC), combustor, high-pressure turbine (HPT) and low-pressure turbine (LPT). The principle goal for the modularized probe program is to design and demonstrate a temperature / pressure probe that is wirelessly connected to the data acquisition system. This will require rethinking the probe design as a measurement system with the entire signal conditioning mounted at the probe. In addition, the electronic networking and link into the data system will have to be considered. This program focuses on the new design of the data acquisition and wireless transmission from a probe that measures the fan exit flow properties. The value to Pratt & Whitney will come from reducing the installation and removal labor costs. The sensor signal conditioning will be integrated into the probe such that removal and replacement of the electronic module can be accomplished with little effort required to manipulate the mechanical and electrical connections. The data system connection will be wireless, although a minimized wire count could be considered. Operational and environmental requirements will be considered. There may be opportunities to test a new probe design in a Pratt and Whitney high-speed wind tunnel.
ROCONA, Inc. (formerly known as Vision Agribotics) is working in conjunction with a large California based agribusiness to develop support technologies that would improve the efficiencies of agriculture. It was founded with the unique notion of working toward improving human life by supplying all of the world's people with ready access to healthy, fresh, affordable food. Hydroponic agriculture on a large scale is a very labor intensive enterprise. Many of the jobs involved are dangerous, dull and dirty. ROCONA's role in this enterprise is to develop a versatile, intelligent un-manned orchard farm tractor so that its farm workers can focus on the high-quality, cognitive work and leave the repetitive, dirty jobs to the robot. This project is a continuation of last year's successful Vision Agrobotics SCOPE project. It will entail completing, delivering and field testing the 2005 tractor to an orchard in California focused on an orchard spraying mission, and building a second 2006 tractor with a multi-use payload bay and a sophisticated sensor module for an orchard health monitoring mission. The "productized" version of this tractor (most probably done by the 2007 SCOPE team to follow) will become a critical enabling part of the exportable "peace through abundant food" pilot farms of the future.
The team is working to develop proposals for new business areas for HP utilizing their market-leading inkjet printer technology. Initially, a list of 20 to 30 new applications (e.g., personal computing, pharmaceuticals, entertainment) will be created. Then in consultation with the sponsor, the most promising ideas will be chosen based on technical merit, innovation, and business fit. This will require engineering and manufacturing analysis and, most likely, prototyping. The driving force for this project comes from HP's desire to expand and support economic and technological infrastructure in Puerto Rico. HP plans to build new manufacturing facilities and is using this opportunity to create new applications.
Sensor networks are becoming pervasive. We can correlate the information that such networks collect with that obtained via other technologies (e.g., identity, location, and multimedia) to create new and innovative applications, such as asset tracking, building automation, structural health monitoring, and environmental monitoring. In this project, the team is working to leverage sensor technology, Olin's network infrastructure, and some of Nortel's research software platforms in order to create innovative applications of potential benefit to the Olin community.
The Boeing SCOPE team will conceptualize, define and validate new and novel light weight passenger support and retention system/s (seats) applicable to commercial jet transport aircraft. Validation shall include sufficient engineering data and substantiating rationale to support belief in the proposed concepts.
In the oil exploration process, drilling toward a potential reservoir is interrupted with periodic sampling ("logging") of the physical environment at the bottom of the well. Instrumentation for these measurements are enclosed in a cylindrical steel shell, called the "tool", which is sent miles under the Earth's surface to record data and collect samples. The dimensions of a typical tool are 12 m in length and 10 cm in diameter. The tool descends through mud, and is subjected to temperatures near 400°F, pressures of 20,000 psi, in addition to variable magnetic fields and radioactivity. Currently, power for the instrumentation is delivered through the cable to which the tool is attached. Schlumberger is interested in developing energy-harvesting technologies to collect energy from various sources and to provide this power locally to the instrumentation. A group of Olin students and faculty have been working with Schlumberger on this project since January 2006. The energy storage options available have been explored, along with an understanding of the dominant physical forces acting on the tool as it descends. This project requires skills from all fields of engineering. Mechanical design skills are needed to design the hardware to pull energy from the environment. Mechatronics skills are needed to convert this harnessed energy into a form which can be stored locally. Electronics skills are needed to careful design circuitry that provides the power to the instrumentation efficiently. Further, all of these systems need to work together as efficiently as possible.
Olin students on the IBM SCOPE team will work to provide a next-generation retail store solution through the development of a cart based store imaging system. This platform will help determine product restocking schedules as well as report on the shopping experience for store owners and product vendors. The work will encompass a focused user study to identify features and functionality; integration of commercially-available vision, navigation, and networking technologies on a shopping cart; and development of custom software for inventory reporting.
The Lexmark team will design and prototype novel applications for their multifunction printers. The target platform is a printer-scanner-copier with fax and phone capability, network access, USB memory device support, a hard disk, an LCD display / touch screen, and the ability to connect to other periferals through USB. The software environment is a Java Virtual Machine that provides access to all of the hardware as well as libraries of functions for generating a graphical user interface and managing electronic documents. The goal of this project is to design a software or hardware-software system that makes creative use of this technology, develops and improves user-interaction, or identifies novel applications that address the needs of users.
Millions of people with Alzheimer's struggle to stay independent and connected to the world. Early stage Alzheimer's patients frequently have feelings of isolation that only deepen as their disease progresses, and their families' sense of frustration increases. Today, inexpensive, powerful technology from the consumer space exists that could be deployed to help them, but these technologies are not designed for use by the cognitively impaired. Some examples of these technologies are: voice recognition, low cost LCD-displays, GPS-enabled cell phones, low cost wireless networks, hand-held computers, etc. The goal of this project is to design and build a device that could help people with early-stage Alzheimer's stay connected with their families and remain independent.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography is a procedure in which an endoscopic device is used to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal diseases in the pancreaticobiliary system. This year's Boston Scientific SCOPE team is continuing a project from Spring 2006 that aims to improve a device used in these surgeries by addressing a known usability issue. The project will involve mechanical design, component testing, materials selection and analysis, and manufacturing. The team will brainstorm and rough prototype devices as well as review concepts generated by last year's team. They will then use modeling, prototyping and testing methods to assess the effectiveness of the final design. The main goal of the project is to provide Boston Scientific with a final detailed design of a tested, prototyped mechanism that meets the needs of their customers.
The ProActive Community team is working to design and prototype a facility that addresses the unfulfilled need in the small events marketplace (125 person or less) for flexible, adaptable, high impact presentation venues for corporate, private and public events. The prototype is intended to allow Proactive Community to conduct user research by running a number of test events within the environment. The business plan for this local entertainment and corporate events venue will have an integral focus on building community interaction, expanding local cultural experiences and creating partnerships with the town and community groups within the surrounding area.
The Nortel ROOTS II project is a continuation of the 2005-2006 SCOPE Nortel Roots project. Using the design ideas developed by Roots, the ROOTS II team is charged with the design and development of a technological solution to problems faced by network managers and information technology specialists. The first phase of the project consists of a study of network managers as a user group followed by a product design process focused on fulfilling the values and requirements of network managers and meeting opportunities in the network management software industry. In the second phase, the team will create a functional prototype with a heavy focus on usability and innovative interface design.
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory 2011-2012 SCOPE team was tasked with identifying an opportunity in the field of robotics for a novel and unique system, then building a proof-of-concept prototype for that system. Inspired by gannet birds, Morus bassanus, which are capable of a rapid, powerful and streamlined transition from air to water, the team chose to create a remote controlled vehicle that is flight capable and is able to fold its wings, plunge-dive into water and navigate underwater. The proof-of-concept system offers insight into the challenges of designing such a unique system and paves the way for building more advanced and more capable systems in the future.
During the 2010-2011 year of the project, the PSI SCOPE team focused on hardware development for the robotic platform. This year, the team focused on the design and development of workstation software to allow higher level planning and complex decision making, and to provide an enhanced user interface. The workstation provides for direct control and supervision of the robot by a remote user, as well as support for computationally complex algorithms.
This SCOPE team worked on improving athenahealth's Application Programming interface (API). The API would allow software developers outside the company to interface with athenahealth's large database of information to create powerful healthcare applications. The team also created a chat client that would be used by healthcare providers and staff within a practice and integrated into athenahealth's web-based software products.
This SCOPE team was tasked with re-envisioning the Autodesk Education Community and proposing a new “community” model relevant to Autodesk and its student and faculty customers. The new website is a commons of student-posted content of four types: project, tutorial, question, or media. All content is collected in a single, filterable, personalized feed for users to discover and explore. The site hopes to foster creativity and encourage users to get more involved.
Microdrop microfluidics is an emerging technology for high throughput screening and processing of biological systems ranging from directed evolution to protein crystallization. Our team has implemented merging, interrogation, and sorting of droplets for the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Brandeis. To do so, we developed a series of microfluidic chips and a test stand capable of actuating sorting in real time based on fluorescence levels, enabling Brandeis to pursue new directions of research.