WRITER: Billy Huntsman
The Aggie Innovation Space, a student-managed and Intel-funded program under the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network at New Mexico State University, recently hosted a home-automation design challenge for undergraduate engineering students. The challenge was an opportunity for engineering students to put their skills to use on a real-world application by designing smart sensors for use within a home.
“Teams of students were challenged to complete a series of innovative solutions for home automation using programmable sensors and other technologies to create smart homes,” said Lenny Mendoza, a senior electrical engineering student working as an Aggie Innovator in the AIS. The goal of the home automation challenge was to design model-home prototypes with feasible features that can anticipate an owner’s needs.
“The participants were tasked with placing sensors in various rooms within a model-home prototype,” Mendoza said. “For example, they integrated a sensor within a ceiling fan to detect a room’s temperature and programmed the sensor to adjust the fan settings to accommodate a person’s temperature preference.”
Sensors were also integrated in various household light fixtures and programmed to automatically adjust a room’s lighting depending on the person’s pre-programed preference, Mendoza said.
“Another task challenged the students to put sensors on the front door, so that when the door is opened, the bell automatically rings,” Mendoza said.
“The Aggie Innovation Space design challenges are part of the College of Engineering’s outreach efforts to provide students with opportunities to apply their academic skills in a real-world setting,” said Patricia A. Sullivan, associate dean for outreach. “Through a variety of outreach efforts like design challenges, we work closely with industry to bridge the gap between classroom and real-world application so that students are ready to enter the workforce on day one. Our outreach programs focus on enhancing multidisciplinary teamwork and many of the soft skills required of today’s global workforce.”
“The AIS design challenges are open to all NMSU majors,” said Mendoza. “One of the objectives of the AIS is to encourage multidisciplinary projects across all majors.”
Winners of the AIS home-automation design challenge were Christian Brieske, Alejandro Quintana and Juan Mendez, all three of whom are students in the engineering technology program at NMSU. They received Arduino development boards donated by the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network at NMSU.