Announcing the Winner of the University Technology Exposure Program 2022

University Technology Exposure Program 2022 invited student researchers to submit articles on their innovative projects and ideas. It’s time to announce the winner of the event who wins a prize of $5,000.

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20 Sep, 2022

Announcing the Winner of the University Technology Exposure Program 2022

Wevolver’s University Technology Exposure Program invited student-researchers from across the globe to showcase their projects to thousands of engineers and company owners. The event was open to recent graduates and saw the participation of dozens of students and teams.

We are happy to announce Mikhail Basov, the winner of the University Technology Exposure Program 2022. Mikhail receives a prize of $5,000 for his research work on a novel circuit design, ‘piezo sensitive differential amplifier with negative feedback loop (PDA-NFL).'

This article summarises the winning project and six other submissions that were shortlisted for the final evaluation by the jury.

The Jury

Rachel Gordon, Ash Ravikumar, and Bram Geenen were part of the jury. Rachel holds a bachelor's in international relations. She is currently working with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as a Communications & Media Relations Officer. Ash is in charge of the Business Incubation Centre (BIC) at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). The goal of BIC is to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship. Bram is the CEO and Co-founder of Wevolver, an award-winning one-of-a-kind platform dedicated to sharing knowledge and creating networking opportunities.

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The winner: Novel circuit design approach makes pressure sensors smaller and more sensitive - Mikhail Basov

Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors are miniature devices built by fabricating mechanical and electronic components responsible for carrying out the sensing process on a silicon chip. These devices have the advantage of small size and are widely used in various sectors, including manufacturing industries, biomedical applications, consumer products, and more. Balancing the performance and size of components is one of the main challenges faced by an R&D engineer working in the field of MEMS.

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New sensor design and fabrication processes add incremental improvements to the technology, but most sensors have used the classic Wheatstone bridge circuit for more than 50 years. Mikhail proposes a novel circuit design, ‘piezo sensitive differential amplifier with negative feedback loop (PDA-NFL)’, that aims to significantly improve the sensitivity and reduce the size of the sensor.

The market (after first-level packaging for MEMS pressure sensors) is currently growing with a CAGR of 5.1% and will reach $2.2B in 2022 vs. $1.6B in 2020). The presented pressure sensor chip PDA-NFL, or rather the type of the proposed electrical circuit, will have high relevance for applications in all fields that require precise pressure sensing. Here are some examples of its applications:

  • In automotive systems, the novel circuit can be used for powertrain, Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP), Barometric Air Pressure (BAP), particle filter, fuel tank, exhaust gas recirculation, engine oil, automatic transmission oil, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), brake booster, side airbags, pedestrian protection, and more.

  • It can be used in consumer electronic products such as smartphones, watches, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart home devices, etc.

  • Industrial systems can also extensively use such sensing circuits in applications such as Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), industrial process controls, and transportation.

  • PDA-NFL is relevant in medical systems such as blood Monitoring (invasive), respiratory care, and smart inhalers.

  • The technology can also be applied to the Defense/Aerospace sector in air data acquisition, Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), hydraulics, etc.

  • Additionally, the pressure sensor chips PDA-NFL can be used in a variety of studies and research in hydromechanics, robots, biophysics, acoustics, geophysics, and a lot of other projects.

Read the complete article by Mikhail here: Novel circuit design approach makes pressure sensors smaller and more sensitive.

In addition to the winning article, here are the six other articles that were shortlisted for the final round of evaluation by the jury:

The runner-up: How to Survive on Mars? - Mark Baldry

Did you know that it would take around 225 tonnes of rocket fuel to deliver a single tonne of any material (including fuel) to the martian surface? Transporting materials from the earth during space travel is among the biggest engineering challenges faced by space exploration teams. Long-duration exploration missions would just not be possible if the astronauts were to depend on transporting all life-supporting systems from the earth. 

To solve this problem, engineers are looking to convert raw materials available on the heavenly body into useful products. Martian regolith, the grainy layer of dust and rock covering mars’ surface, can be used to extract water, breathable oxygen, and alloys. Using a systematic approach, raw materials can be converted into versatile, small molecules, which can be combined in a variety of ways to form valuable products.

In this submission by Dr. Mark Baldry from the University of Sydney, he explains an integrated system for producing essential materials on Mars using local resources, paving the way for self-sufficient settlements. The applications for this technology are not limited to a Martian settlement but may also form the basis of establishing a Lunar refueling station to facilitate trips to Mars and the wider solar system. Closer to home, this technology can help remote communities in harsh conditions be less reliant on expensive resupply.

Here is the link to the article: How to Survive on Mars? 

The runner-up: Making 3D printers smarter with MTouch, a low-cost automatic fault detection system - Sam Aidala

Desktop fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers are fast gaining popularity as low-volume manufacturing tools. They work by heating plastic filament and extruding it through a nozzle onto a bed. A major issue with such printers is that it is extremely difficult to find out defects until the printing is complete. Manually monitoring the whole process is not an option as the process sometimes takes a long time.

Sam Aidala, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan (UoM) explains in the article how a team of researchers from the Smart and Sustainable Automation Research Lab (S2A Lab) at the UoM has developed an augmentative solution for FFF 3D printers capable of detecting multiple types of faults in real-time. It is a module that determines if the object being printed has millimeter-scale geometric defects. It checks for the presence or absence of the print at specific locations and compares it to pre-computed expected results.

Check out the submission by visiting this link: Making 3D printers smarter with MTouch, a low-cost automatic fault detection system

The runner-up: Modeling, Design, and Control of a Hosing-Drone Unmanned Aerial System - Blake Hament

Workers put themselves in danger every day to clean bridges and overpasses with pressure washing. Often, they are suspended beneath or beside the infrastructure while spraying at a pressure of over 3000 PSI. Water and debris can splash back into the workers' eyes, noses, and mouths, or worse, dislodge them from their precarious perches. Frequent injuries are reported.

To make the job safer and faster, Blake Hament, a Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas introduces a multicopter that can fly close to bridges, overpasses, and other pieces of large infrastructure to perform high-pressure washing. Water is pumped to high pressure on the ground and then sent to the drone via a hose. As water sprays from the actuated nozzle on the drone, the flight controller compensates for high reaction forces and torques due to the spraying.

Read the submission here: Modeling, Design, and Control of a Hosing-Drone Unmanned Aerial System

The runner-up: Design inspiration from woodpeckers could allow robotic arms to be bendable and extendable - Ayato Kanada

Woodpeckers have flexible and extendable tongues that they use to reach their prey through tiny openings in trees and insect burrows. The special anatomical features of woodpeckers manipulate their surprisingly long tongues. Unlike human and anteater tongues, which are made mainly of muscle, the woodpecker's tongue is rigidly supported by the bones.

The team behind the project aims to take inspiration from the woodpecker’s tongue to combine the benefits of both conventional and soft robotics to develop something like Dr. Octopus’ arms in reality. The resulting robotic hands that operate in unstructured environments can unlock multiple opportunities for application in biomedical instrumentation, manufacturing, space research, agriculture, and numerous other fields of engineering.

Visit this page to read the complete article: Design inspiration from woodpeckers could allow robotic arms to be bendable and extendable

The runner-up: Surface engineered nickel-rich cathode material enabling high power discharge for Li-ion battery applications - Anish Raj Kathribail

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are all set to replace vehicles powered by fossil fuels. But to be successful and offer performance equivalent to conventional vehicles, they need batteries that can function with high power for an extended period of time. 

Nickel-rich materials like LiNixMnyCozO2 (NMC, x+y+z=1; where x≥0.5) are a popular choice for making the cathode due to their high specific capacity but undergo a drastic capacity loss, especially at high voltages due to a side reaction.

The article explains a surface-coating technique for NMC particles that improves the Lithium-ion battery's total available capacity and high-power performance. The technology can be applied in vehicles, drones, power tools, military, grid storage, electronics, and more.

Link to the complete article: Surface engineered nickel-rich cathode material enabling high power discharge for Li-ion battery applications

The runner-up: Predictive Model of Adaptive Cruise Control Speed to Enhance Engine Operating Conditions - Srikanth Kolachalama

Cruise control is a feature that helps a vehicle maintain its speed when being driven on long loads. It reduces driver fatigue and is a commonly available feature in many personal vehicles. Adaptive Cruise Control takes a step forward by allowing vehicles to detect and adjust their speed depending on the presence and speeds of other vehicles.

This article presents a novel methodology to predict the optimal Adaptive Cruise Control Set Speed Profile (ACCSSP) by optimizing the Engine Operating Conditions (EOC) considering Vehicle Level Vectors (VLV). The work investigates EOC criteria to develop a predictive model of ACCSSP in real-time.

Here is the link to the submission: Predictive Model of Adaptive Cruise Control Speed to Enhance Engine Operating Conditions

Jury’s remarks

The competition was extremely tough due to the variety and novelty of the articles submitted by the participants this year.

Talking about the submissions, Ash mentions, “This year's shortlist is insanely amazing, and I really struggled with rating them. I was very torn on “judging” them. I don’t think I have done justice.”

Rachel feels the societal relevance and impact category was extremely robust this year, touching critical verticals and applications in many relevant research areas. 

She says, “The novelty bar is set very high given my exposure to research at CSAIL - for example, recent work I've seen such as an ML model for adjusting and monitoring 3D printing process to correct errors in real-time, a lot of bio-inspired robotics, drone usage for crops, using cubic boron arsenide for chips, and so on. For the quality section, I also focused on what could potentially be scalable and feasibly extrapolated.”

Ash found Mikhail’s NFA-PDL circuit and Ayato Kanda’s woodpecker-inspired robotic arm the most innovative and technically novel projects. Among the runner-up, Ash was impressed by Sam Aidala’s MTouch ‘3D printer fault detection system’ and ‘surface-engineered nickel-rich cathode material enabling high power discharge for Li-ion battery applications’ by Ayato Kanda.

Along with Mikhail’s project, Rachel rated Srikanth Kolachalama’s ‘Predictive Model of Adaptive Cruise Control Speed to Enhance Engine Operating Conditions high in terms of quality of engineering and social relevance.

Ash congratulates the winners and the Wevolver team for the event's success.

He adds, “It is a pleasure to be a part of this event. Please continue this effort. It’s amazing to see that you are providing a platform to showcase great engineering globally”.

Conclusion

On that note, Wevolver’s University Technology Exposure Program 2022 comes to an end. Wevolver thanks all the readers, participants, sponsors, and jury members for making the event a huge success. We wish the participants all the best for their future. 

Until then, do check out some previously published featured UTEP articles by visiting these links:

About the University Technology Exposure Program 2022

Wevolver, in partnership with Mouser Electronics and Ansys, organized University Technology Exposure Program 2022. The program aimed to recognize and reward innovation from engineering students and researchers across the globe. Learn more about the program here.

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20 Sep, 2022

I studied Creative Technology at the University of Twente, and Media & Business at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. At Wevolver I work on growing our community.

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