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College of Engineering

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Cover of Engineering Advantage Magazine, Spring 2018 issue

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Industry & Community Partners

QL+ Faculty, Dean, and Donor. Photo by Dennis Steers.

QL+ Donation. Photo by Dennis Steers.

Overview

The College of Engineering works closely with industry through a broad array of intellectual and mutually beneficial partnerships that offer opportunities to invest in innovation, cutting-edge engineering and computer science education, and the next generation of leaders in engineering and technology.

Corporate Partners Program

The College of Engineering seeks to maximize opportunities for collaborative, mutually-rewarding associations with corporate partners in order to meet the engineering and computer science workforce needs of the state and nation, promote student learning, and facilitate research and technology transfer.

In developing such partnerships, the College of Engineering works to address the unique interests of each individual company, whether those interests are to expand corporate name recognition; provide access to world-class faculty, student and graduates; or offer targeted applied research support.

Industrial Advisory Boards

DAC and IABs.

The Dean's Advisory Council (DAC) and departmental industrial advisory boards (IAB) were established to enhance this relationship and to serve as vehicles for input from industry and government regarding a wide range of issues affecting the excellence of education at the college.

Council and Board Objectives

The objective of the Dean's Advisory Council and the departmental advisory boards is to assist in maintaining the excellence of engineering and computer science education at Cal Poly and to encourage the continuance of the College of Engineering's traditional "hands-on" approach. Specific goals include the following: 1) serving as a communication link between the college and its constituencies; 2) helping to keep CENG programs up-to-date on current and future needs of graduates and the professions; 3) assisting the college and its programs in developing and implementing its goals; 4) helping industry leaders to better understand the college's mission; and 5) helping the college and programs in seeking public and private support.

Membership

Industrial advisory council and board members serve by invitation from the College of Engineering Dean and department chairs.

Named Laboratories Program

Learn by Doing

A world-class, Learn by Doing engineering education requires state-of-the-art laboratories. However, Cal Poly receives no state support for lab maintenance, operation or upgrades. Instead, private donors have provided the signature campus spaces that enable student to discover how to innovate and bring their designs to life.

Engineering lab sponsorship provides discretionary funds for equiment, technology, supplies and routine maintenance. The College of Engineering offers term and permanent naming opportunities for lab sponsorship.

Funding

Term Naming: Lab sponsorship begins at $10,000 per year with a five-year commitment. During that time, the sponsor organization will be recognized in the lab and in the classes and project work within the lab. Funds are used for supplies, materials, equipment, and graduate support. Some labs require additional financial support. In-kind equipment grants may be considered for lab sponsorship, when that equipment supports the core of the lab activities.

Permanent Naming: Depending on the facility, permanent naming and signage recognition is usually assoiciated with a gift of $250,000 to establish a lab endowment.

For more information, please contact the College Advancement Team.

Corporate Applied Research

As the nation's leader in hands-on engineering and computer science education, Cal Poly provides a project- and design-centered environment that supports applied research in a wide range of multidisciplinary or discipline-focused areas. Corporate sponsorship of faculty and student applied research projects offers unique opportunities for industry/university collaboration and problem solving.

Applied research projects generally fall into one of four general types:

  • Sponsored Projects - Sponsored projects can take advantage of individual faculty expertise and research interests or they may involve multidisciplinary groups of students and faculty working on well defined project objectives with very specific milestones and deliverables.
  • Graduate Student Projects - Graduate Student Projects tend to be individual and technically oriented.
  • Capstone Projects - Faculty-advised student groups and teams undertake Capstone Projects in the context of a senior series course or a club project. Examples include the annual Design/Build/Fly teams or the Ford-sponsored FutureTruck project.
  • Senior Projects - All Cal Poly undergraduate students are required to complete a Senior Project, which includes design, analysis, fabrication, testing, and completion of a final report. The Senior Project can be done on an individual basis, or it can be an integrated effort resulting in several projects completed in a cooperative effort by students of varied disciplines. This "team" approach is often well suited to broader problems confronting an industrial sponsor.

To participate in sponsored research at the College of Engineering contact the College Advancement Team.

Sponsorship Programs

Sponsorship Opportunities: The College of Engineering seeks to meet the interests and gifting priorities of supporting companies by tailoring corporate sponsorship agreements on an individual basis. In addition to a named laboratory or a sponsored applied research project, therefore, companies may choose numerous other ways to connect with CENG's engineering and computer science students and faculty. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Individual student scholarships can be targeted to specific majors and need areas.
  • Student club or club project sponsorship supports the kinds of hands-on project activities that enrich the learning curve of Cal Poly students. Because of its heavy emphasis on dozens of co-curricular activities and student professional organizations such as IEEE, ASME, SME, Cal Poly Space Systems Club, ASCE, and many others, the College of Engineering sees club sponsorship as an important aspect of its partnership with industry.
  • Faculty development funds help the college provide competitive opportunities to attract and retain the best faculty talent available while also creating on-campus corporate liaison opportunities.
  • Course or course project sponsorships allow companies to target resources to specific discipline areas and students majoring in fields directly applicable to corporate interests.
  • Program sponsorship targets specific departments, majors, or particular programs within majors that impact corporate operations.
  • Consortia, institute, or center membership enables companies to leverage their support for a particular project or professional interest area with other groups and corporations. Two current consortia established in the college include the Electric Power Institute in the Electrical Engineering Department and the Manufacturing Consortium in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department.

Funding Options: Companies may provide a short-term sponsorship or establish an on-going partnership.

  • Year-by-year gifts or one-time project sponsorship allows companies to direct support to corporate priorities during a specific academic year.
  • Endowments can be established in amounts as small as $10,000. This funding vehicle has the advantage of providing stable financial support in the long-term, continuous growth, continuity, and an on-going campus presence for the gifting company.

For more information contact the College Advancement Team.

Summer 2018 Research Projects

Faculty Name: Christian Eckhardt
Department: Computer Science
Email: ceckhard@capoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-5540
Title of Research Project: Realtime Lift/Drag simulation
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 3
Research Project Description:
Our goal is to develop a compute shader based real time lift and drag simulations for dynamic bodies in gas/fluids. Looking into the theory, we figured out a way to calculate lift and drag based on the surface topology of an object for fast prototyping, abstracting the airflow into texels of impulse, inertia and momentum. To do that, we follow each airflow texel over the surface, keeping the inertia and the resulting distance to the surface (which results in a low pressure zone further bending the curve of the texel) in several frame buffers along the angle of attack. The resolution of these frame buffers and the density along the flow-path is direct correlated with the output quality and therefore scalable. We already developed a working proof of concept and need funds to further work on a comprehensive publication, were we will show to match several airfoils angle of attack vs lift/drag curves against experimental as well as simulated data.

 

Faculty Name: Russell V. Westphal, Donald E. Bently Professor
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Email: rvwestph@calpoly.edu
Phone: 805-736-1336 office; 509-438-6509 cell
Title of Research Project: The Boundary Layer Data System
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  3
Research Project Description:
The Boundary Layer Data System (BLDS) project involves students in the development and application of the unique BLDS approach to measure the flow near the surface of aircraft in flight or other large-scale systems.  For the 2018 SURP, students are offered the opportunity to undertake one of the following tasks as a member of the BLDS project team mentored by Principal Investigator Russ Westphal:

  • Development of a new, smaller battery or battery/capacitor assembly for BLDS, including a thermal-vacumm chamber test protocol to assess its performance;
  • Integration (including programming) and testing of a wireless module for existing BLDS;
  • Conduct a careful assessment of the upstream pressure disturbance created by BLDS using wind tunnel measurements;
  • Develop and test a new module to add to the stable of available module prototypes in the team’s new line of “BLDS-M” instruments.
  • Design and fabricate a new prototype housing and fairing for existing BLDS instruments that takes advantage of new, smaller batteries to shrink the dimensions (and thus reduced weight and aerodynamic loads).

 

Faculty Name: Trevor S. Harding
Department: Materials Engineering
Email: tharding@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7163
Title of Research Project: Development of Boron Nitride/Poly (hydroxy butyrate-co-valerate) nanocomposites for packaging applications
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Plastic packaging, which constitutes 1/3 of municipal landfill waste, is primarily made from synthetic, petroleum-based polymers which rely on a non-renewable resource for production and are non-biodegradable, leading to climate change and accumulation of plastic waste on land and in oceans.  Use of biopolymers, such as poly(hydroxy butyrate-co-valerate) (PHBV), which is derived from bacterial fermentation of waste products, is a promising alternative to synthetic polymers because they are based on renewable resources and are biodegradable.  However, PHBV suffers from poor thermal and barrier properties limiting its application in packaging systems.  Addition of boron nitride nanocrystals could lead to enhanced thermal and barrier properties.  This study will allow students to synthesize pure PHBV and PHBV/boron nitride nanocomposites, through a solvent casting process.  Subsequent testing of the samples will include scanning electron microscopy, dynamic mechanical analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, oxygen and water vapor permeation testing, and tensile testing.

 

Faculty Name: John Pan
Department: Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Email: pan@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2540
Title of Research Project: Development of a Flexible-Hybrid Electronics Device for GAIT Monitoring
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
The objective of this project is to develop a flexible-hybrid electronics device to enable continuous monitoring both normal and abnormal gait in order to see changes in movement. Changes in gait are established symptoms of diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's, Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis. These are diseases that typically become harder to manage and increase in severity as one gets older, typically over the age of 65. The first step is to develop a method to measures changes in gait. We will design a circuit and select sensors to prove the concept. An experiment will be conducted to determine the sensor location on the human body to get optimal measurements and which biological factor to be measured in order to monitor gait. The device will be tested as a diagnostic tool for the diseases identified above. After proving the method, a flexible-hybrid electronics device will be designed and manufactured. This flexible hybrid electronics device will be wearable as it will allow for remote healthcare monitoring, making it more convenient and cheaper for our target age group, patients over the age of 65. Current methods for monitoring gait are expensive and require the use of cameras based in a lab, as well as hours of human input, which make them problematic for remote monitoring.

 

Faculty Name: Bruce DeBruhl
Department: Computer Science and Software Engineering  
Email:  bdebruhl@calpoly.edu           
Phone: (805) 756-1392
Title of Research Project: A practical implementation of the SPREAD PHY protocol using Software Defined Radio
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 3
Research Project Description:
With the advent of software-defined radio, it is now possible to implement massively-reconfigurable physical and MAC layer radio protocols.  In the past, I have demonstrated that SDR can be used for implementing more efficient jamming attacks.  Related literature has demonstrated that practical defenses can be implemented using software defined radio.  For example, we are interested in the SPREAD Phy protocol that was proposed from Guevarra Noubir’s lab at Northeastern University in 2007.  In this project, students will implement efficient reconfigurable attacks and defenses from the literature in software defined radio.  After an initial development period of 4 weeks, students will compete in a 3-week red-team/blue-team exercise to refine their strategies. In the 8th week, students will document their results and properly document and store their code. 

I expect this work to have multiple practical outputs.  First, the real-world implementation of older adaptive protocols (for example SPREAD) is novel applied research that is valuable to the broader wireless security community.  Second, the development of a red-team/blue-team electronic warfare exercise using software defined radio is novel education research.  I anticipate being able to incorporate these exercises into courses including CSC-422 and EE-504. 

 

Faculty Name: Professor Dennis Derickson
Department:  Electrical Engineering
Email: ddericks@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7584 office, (805) 712-9168 mobile
Title of Research Project: Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) System for autonomous systems with 100 meter range and 1 microsecond update rate
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 3
Description of the Research Project: 
Developments in autonomous vehicles demand improvements in imaging systems beyond what is available in today’s products.   LIDAR is a key technology for imaging objects.  Key specifications for autonomous vehicle LIDAR Imaging are a ranging distance of over 100 meters and a measurement rate of 1 microsecond per point.  Pulsed LIDAR systems dominate today’s solution set.  Pulsed LIDAR solutions suffer from the need for very sensitive optical receivers that are very susceptible to overload by malicious jamming signals.  LIDAR systems based on FMCW receivers are very sensitive and can be designed to be robust against jamming signals.   The key difficulty with FMCW systems is the need for narrow spectral width laser sources with less than 1 MHz spectral width.   This project has three goals toward making 100 meter and 1 microsecond LIDAR systems possible with FMCW.

  1. LASER CHARACTERIZATION: The research project team will characterize new lasers fabricated by the industrial collaboration organization “Insight Photonic Solutions” (www.sweptlaser.com) in Lafayette, Colorado. These lasers can have superior spectral width and update rates when combined with high speed electronic driver circuits and optoelectronic feedback techniques.
  2. OPTICAL IMAGING APPARATUS: The research project team will design and characterize optical imaging apparatus to take the laser signal and create a free-space optical beam that can be moved over a 20 degree window in azimuth and elevation. Insight Photonics has a starting point design that we can improve upon.
  3. SYSTEM VERIFICATION: The research team will combine the new narrow linewidth laser and the optical imaging apparatus to demonstrate performance against the 100 meter imaging distance and 1 microsecond update rate.

 

Faculty Name: Jacques Belanger
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Email: jjbelang@calpoly.edu / adavol@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1378 / (805) 756-1388
Title of Research Project: Dual Axis Solar Tracker Development
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
The ME Department has the mechanical components designed and assembled for a dual axis solar tracker. This versatile tracker, once completed, will be used to support research into tracking algorithm optimization and on concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) applications. In addition, it will be an excellent educational tool in our technical electives and for general education of the public. The work proposed for the summer of 2018 is focused on the controls and electronics of the system. The students will be asked to design a microcontroller based system to track the sun. Initially the system will track based on known sun position at a specified day and time. The system must have flexibility to incorporate sensor input for future iterations to explore alternate control strategies. In addition the students will design the electrical components of the system to store/dissipate the power generated by a 425 W photovoltaic panel. The students final task will be to create a real-time web link so that the power production of the system can be displayed and monitored remotely.

 

Faculty Name: Jean Lee
Department: Materials Engineering/ General Engineering 
Email: jlee473@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-6571
Title of Research Project: Investigation of CaO Nanoparticles as a Carbon Sequestration Material
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
This project tests the hypothesis that Group II oxides such as calcium oxide (CaO) hold promise as effective carbon sequestration materials.  In this project, a microwave synthesis technique will be used to produce CaO nanoparticles and possibly other Group II oxides as time permits.  The microstructure and composition of CaO nanoparticles produced by this technique will be examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS). The CaO nanoparticles will then be imaged in an atomic force microscope (AFM), where images of the CaO nanoparticles will be obtained before, during, and after exposure to carbon dioxide (CO2).  Ideally, if changes in the CaO nanoparticles are observed as a function of exposure to CO2, information about the rate of CO2 uptake and release, and how CO2 is adsorbed on the CaO nanoparticles can be gleaned from AFM data.

 

Faculty Name: Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: kohallor@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2675
Title of Research Project: Electrospinning Polymer Scaffolds for Tissue Engineered Blood Vessel Mimics
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
The overall goal of this project is to improve and refine the electrospinning process in the Cal Poly Tissue Engineering lab.  The Tissue Engineering lab uses electrospinning to create polymer scaffolds that are the foundation for our tissue engineered blood vessels.  The lab has faced two main challenges this year: variability of straight scaffolds and brittleness of aneurysm scaffolds.  With two students on this project, we will aim to solve both of these challenges.  Both students will learn electrospinning and will work together to troubleshoot equipment components and refine the basic protocols.  One student will specifically focus on parameters related to the standard straight spins.  This student’s aims will be to 1) Establish a refined protocol, including specifically identified polymer and solvent choices, to create scaffolds with <5um fibers and 2) Characterize the consistency of this protocol within and between spins.  The second student will focus on aneurysm scaffolds, with aims to 1) Establish and master a refined, and potentially more efficient, protocol to create blister and saccular aneurysms and 2) Evaluate brittleness post-spin and post-processing.

 

Faculty Name: Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: kohallor@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2675
Title of Research Project: Characterization of Decellularized Biomaterials
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
The overall goal of this project is to characterize decellularized tissues following protocol variations based on time, mechanical agitation, and tissue type.  Decellularization is a common technique that removes cells from tissue to create protein-based biomaterials.  Traditional decellularization protocols utilize some type of chemical or detergent combined with mechanical agitation to remove cells.  Based on preliminary data, we have found that static decellularization may be preferable for certain tissue types at certain time points.  In this project, we will further explore and characterize the impact of time and mechanical agitation on the decellularization of various tissues and organs.  The two students on this project will work together to learn and implement decellularization protocols and to histologically evaluate the resulting biomaterials using H&E staining and microscopic analysis.  Each student will focus on different tissues, with individual aims to 1) Perform decellularization on selected tissues under static vs dynamic conditions at 1hr, 1d, 3d, 5d, and 7d timepoints, and 2) Perform histology on the resulting samples to characterize the extent of cell removal and the impact on protein structure and integrity.

 

Faculty Name: John Oliver
Department: Electrical Engineering/ Computer Engineering
Email: jyoliver@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-5434
Title of Research Project: Cybersecurity of Industrial Controls Laboratory
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
Through previous partnerships with PG&E and the California Cyber Training Complex, a set of laboratory experiments on the hacking and hardening of an industrial controls network was created. These lab experiments are designed as an introductory experience into the cybersecurity of industrial control networks and supports a 2-day training course. The goal of this project is to use a student to expand on these laboratory modules to demonstrate more advanced cybersecurity flaws and techniques. Additionally, this student will gain hands-on experience in teaching these existing labs to PG&E employees over the summer.

 

Faculty Name: Davide Falessi           
Department: Computer Science & Software Engineering
Email: dfalessi@calpoly.edu  
Phone: (301) 273-8274
Title of Research Project: DEMI - Defect Estimation Metrics
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
In today society, reducing defect is important from both economic and safety perspectives. For this reason, a significant amount of research effort has been spent trying to reduce defects by accurately predicting where they are or how they can be avoided. A software metric is a standard of measure of a degree to which a software system or process possesses some property. It is generally agreed that software product and process metrics are vital in supporting accurate predictions of the defects existing in a software system. For instance, regarding the metric size, we know that larger classes are expected to be more defect prone than smaller classes. Unfortunately, there is currently no standard framework for measuring metrics. Definitions are nebulous and even metrics that appear simple, such as size, are measured differently from application to application. The absence of reproducibility in metrics measurement reduces the replicability of scientific studies and also acts as a barrier to students learning about software quality and safety. The aim of this project is to develop an open source desktop-based application called DEMI. DEMI receives, as input, the repository ID and authentication information of a software project, and it provides, in a replicable way, as output, a set of well-defined product and project metrics such as size and number of developers.

 

Faculty Name: Taufik
Department: Electrical Engineering
Email: taufik@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2318
Title of Research Project: Performance Analysis and Study of a Novel Voltage Regulator Module for Powering Modern Processors
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Recently released in January 2018, the new VRM13.0 for Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) sets the latest industry standard for powering next generation processors. Some major technical challenges with the standard are the electrical requirements for low operating processor’s voltage of 1.8V at high 200A current. Conventional method commonly used in VRMs will be difficult in meeting these requirements especially when high efficiency has to be maintain to minimize energy loss. The major focus of this research is to investigate a novel VRM topology recently developed at Cal Poly and study its performance in meeting the VRM13.0’s electrical requirements. A hardware prototype of the proposed topology will be designed and constructed. Data obtained from laboratory testing of the prototype will be compared against commercially available VRM(s). 

 

Faculty Name: Trevor Cardinal
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: tcardina@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-6244
Title of Research Project: Impact of diet-induced obesity on arteriogenesis and vasodilation in mice
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 3
Research Project Description:
Students will tie off the femoral artery of mice with suture to mimic the insufficient blood flow characteristic of peripheral vascular disease. To better mimic the human patients, the mice will have diet-induced obesity. At the time of surgery, students will transplant muscle progenitor cells (i.e. myoblasts) to stimulate the growth or natural bypass vessels (arteriogenesis). At defined time points following surgery, students will measure the enlargement and function of the natural bypass by stimulating vasodilation before fixing the tissue with formaldehyde. After excising the natural bypass vessels, students will label the white blood cells in the nearby area; white blood cells control the arteriogenesis process.

 

Faculty Name:  Tao Yang and Rob Carter
Department: Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Email:  tyang@calpoly.edu and rvcarter@calpoly.edu
Phone:  (805) 756-2810 and (805) 756-2739
Title of Research Project: Implementing Snap-To-Reality Mixed Reality (MR) Algorithms on Microsoft HoloLens System Interacting with 3D Design
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Our SURP 2018 research proposal is germane to the 2018 CPConnect proposal “Mixed Reality” where a Microsoft HoloLens System is requested to work with Unity 3D or SolidWorks CAD files ergo that in an amalgamated view of digital products and ambient physical space a CAD object (such as a cube with three blind holes at the bottom) can interact (e.g., to align) with actual holes (or representatives) on the floor.  In order to materialize the interaction dedicated algorithms such as Snap-to-Reality will need to be implemented in the MR system.  Our SURP 2018 proposal is looking for advanced students who are no slouch at programming language C# or Unity Script to join us.  We plan to start a deeper new round of search to locate if any existing quasi Snap-To-Reality algorithms are out there. Then code the algorithms with the assistance of Microsoft Holographic Programming library plus Unity 3D or SolidWorks open-code support to complete the verisimilitude experiments.

 

Faculty Name: Charles Birdsong
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Email: cbirdson@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1261
Title of Research Project: Intelligent Mobility Course Development
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Cal poly is situated to be a key player in the growing field of Intelligent Mobility. This growing field is very active in California especially in the Silicon Valley. We have had success so far advising students on projects related to intelligent vehicles and spring boarding them into a career in the auto industry.  We are developing a small scale intelligent vehicle platform that is accessible to undergraduate students through rapid prototype software and low power, low risk hardware, i.e. a tenth scale vehicle that includes a high-power microcontroller, sensors and actuators.  The plan it to develop this platform as a centerpiece of the first of its kind, undergraduate course in Intelligent Mobility.  The current platform has been designed over several years through undergraduate senior projects, summer undergraduate research projects and MS thesis.  The goal of this year’s SURP is to conduct additional research that will support the course development and courseware for this new course.  There are many areas that need investigation and development in this field and I hope to lead a team of 5 undergraduates this summer.

 

Faculty Name: Aaron Drake
Department: Aerospace Engineering
Email: agdrake@calpoly.edu
Phone: office: (805) 756-2577; cell: (858) 229-5809
Title of Research Project: Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  2
Research Project Description:
The Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) project involves students in studying ways that UAS can provide additional capabilities to support a broad range of research areas, including agriculture, ecological management, and public safety. For the 2018 SURP, students will have the opportunity to work on a project team, mentored by Principal Investigator Aaron Drake, with hands-on involvement in:

  • Planning flight test activities, including developing test objectives, installing instrumentation and an building test plans;
  • Integrating sensors and instrumentation into UAVs and developing operating procedures for data acquisition;
  • Conducting flight operations with a range of UAVs (including small fixed wing aircraft and rotor wing aircraft with takeoff weights of up to 200 lbs) in the local Cal Poly area and in remote research areas; and
  • Implement flight operations procedures for safe, sustainable research.

 

Faculty Name: Ashraf Rahim
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Email: arahim@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1349
Title of Research Project: Performance Evaluation of Flexible Pavements Built on Different Types of Bases in California
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Transportation has an enormous impact on California economy, and on the lives of its residents. Pavements are just one part of the transportation system, and yet it is by far the most important component. Pavement performance evaluation is a key component in making design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation decisions for pavements. The goal of the proposed study is to evaluate the impact of treated and untreated base layers on the performance of flexible/asphalt pavements employing the Long Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) database. Performance models will be developed for different distress modes which could help predict future performance to prioritize and optimize maintenance and rehabilitation cost.

 

Faculty Name: Anurag Pande 
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Email: apande@calpoly.edu 
Phone: (805) 756-2104
Title of Research Project: Measuring Highway Network Performance: A Context-sensitive Evaluation
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 3
Research Project Description:
The proposed effort will assemble detailed traffic data to quantify congestion and identify bottlenecks in the transportation networks during recent emergency evacuation events in the State of California to improve future decision-making. The lessons from the project will lead to better planning and congestion relief during evacuations. The scope of the 8-week proposed effort would be to identify duration and locations of the evacuation orders, relevant traffic data sources for three different CA communities affected by mass-evacuation in the last few years. Each student will be working with gathering this information for characterizing congestion in one California communities.

 

Faculty Name:  Dianne DeTurris                     
Department:  Aerospace Engineering
Email:  ddeturri@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1515
Title of Research Project: Lifecycle Governance for Complexity in Engineered Systems
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
The aerospace industry is notorious for programs that are over budget and behind schedule due to ever increasing complexity. A new paradigm is needed for systems engineering to address development of modern systems, which is the focus of this project. The research is being conducted in collaboration with the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), which has created the Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange (CASE) as a forum to bring together multidisciplinary frameworks that are being implemented in other industries. One such framework, the concept of lifecycle governance that has existed for many years with a project focus, is now being reinvisioned with a systems focus to replace stage gate decisionmaking. Applying systems thinking to all lifecycle stages during each life cycle stage is a positive step toward managing the emergent behavior. This project will be conducted through consultation with Dr. Wilson Felder, a CASE researcher and professor from Stevens Institute of Technology. Dr. Felder has written a book chapter on lifecycle governance and is interested in helping more students study this expanding field.

 

Faculty Name:  Dale Dolan
Department:  Electrical Engineering
Email:  dsdolan@calpoly.edu
Phone:  (805) 756-2495
Title of Research Project:  Design and Development of Laboratory Dual Axis Single PV Module Tracker
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:    1
Research Project Description: 
Photovoltaic systems are able to generate more electrical energy when they are oriented to directly face the sun.  There are many ways to achieve this but economics and reliability also plays an important role.  Although two axis tracking is superior in energy performance, costs and reliability can make single axis tracking more attractive.  Students will use an existing solar module with dual axis control and develop different algorithms to compare performance for several dual axis and single axis designs.  The control will be implemented using a microcontroller of the students choosing.

 

Faculty Name:  Dale Dolan
Department:  Electrical Engineering
Email:  dsdolan@calpoly.edu
Phone:  (805) 756-2495
Title of Research Project:  Design and Development of PV Emulator
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  1
Research Project Description: 
Design and testing of photovoltaic (PV) inverters and MPPT (maximum power point tracking) charge controllers require the ability to produce input from PV modules exposed to a wide range of day and light profiles and temperatures.  This is difficult to achieve for a consistent testing environment when these variables are outside of your control.  The construction of a PV emulator would allow the reproduction of PV input to the devices under test that would be equivalent to what a PV module would produce under a defined set of conditions.   Students will research various factors that affect the output of PV modules and determine the factors to include in a PV emulator.  They will use a programmable DC power source that will be controlled via Labview to develop the PV emulator.

 

Faculty Name: Nirupam Pal  
Department:  Civil & Environmental Engineering
Email: npal@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1355
Title of Research Project:   Biodegradation of MTBE and TBA in Soil and ground water simulated in a Soil Column
Number of Students to be supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
Currently California alone has more than 1100 MTBE and TBA contaminated sites.  The total number of sites are more than 20,000 in USA.  It poses a serious ground water contamination.   We initiated a research last summer through SURP on Biodegradation of MTBE and TBA.  The results shows great promise in biodegradation of TBA and MTBE in shaker flask study using a mixture of bacillus organism. The proposed research will use soil column to study biodegradation of MTBE and TBA.  This project will be developed on previous experience and knowledge gained from last SURP and current master’s thesis done in this laboratory.

 

Faculty Name: Dr. Yong Hao
Department: Materials Engineering
Email: yhao@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-6634 (office), (305) 934-8501 (cell)
Title of Research Project: Advanced Sulfur Nanocomposites as Cathode Materials for Li-S Batteries
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
With the increasing needs of power supplies to portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and stationary storages, Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries with advantages such as high theoretical capacity (1675 mAh g-1) and high energy density (2600 vs. 420 Wh kg-1 of traditional Li-ion batteries) are becoming the most attractive next-generation batteries to replace the traditional Li-ion batteries. Sulfur is one of the most abundant elements on earth and using sulfur as cathode material instead of traditional transition metal oxides can significantly improve safety, lower the cost and make it more environmentally friendly. However, predominant challenges of low active material utilization, capacity degradation, and poor cycle life have restricted the further development and practical applications of Li-S battery technology. This project aims to target the major issues by rational structural design of sulfur based nanocomposites to physically and/or chemically confine the sulfur component and further enhance the electrochemical performance of Li-S cells. Developing the sulfur nanocomposites will be conducted using well studied synthesis process of chemical reaction and deposition. Characterization of the active materials will be carried out through analytical facilities in MATE department including  scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), x-ray diffraction (XRD) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Electrochemical evaluation of assembled split cell will consist of galvanostatic charge/discharge, cyclability and rate capability testing using the electrochemical testing station. The expected outcome is to achieve high performance of Li-S batteries with high specific capacity and long cycle life, a goal for emerging advanced energy storage technology.

 

Faculty Name: Rebekah Oulton
Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Email: roulton@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1367
Title of Research Project: Nitrate Removal in Bioretention Cells
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
One of my graduate students recently completed his research into the efficacy of various bioretention cell (BRC) soil media mixtures.  He was investigating how well different specific BRC soil mixtures maintained their hydraulic conductivity while removing both total suspended solids and nitrates from model stormwater.  Nitrates are one of the most ubiquitous pollutants in surface water bodies, carried by runoff from fertilized agricultural fields and urban landscaped areas.  Once in a receiving water body, nitrates can lead to eutrophication, or excessive algal growth, ultimately causing long term negative impacts in the surface water ecosystem.  Yet, nitrate control is one of the most variable factors in BRCs, with removal levels ranging from less than 10% to over 90%.  The specific mechanisms for nitrate removal in BRCs are not well understood, according to current literature in the field.  One of the intriguing results from my graduate student’s study was the preliminary finding that low hydraulic conductivity and high organic content seemed to be linked with higher levels of nitrate removal.  This SURP study proposes to investigate this finding in greater depth, to better understand the mechanism(s) at play in a BRC that lead to effective nitrate removal.  Ultimately, outcome of this research may allow for tailored BRC design to better protect sensitive surface water bodies from runoff from highly-fertilized areas.

 

Faculty Name:  Christopher Heylman
Department:  Biomedical Engineering
Email:  cheylman@calpoly.edu
Phone:  (805) 756-6482
Title of Research Project:  Multi-Chamber Microfluidic Device for Growing Tissues-on-a-chip
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  2
Research Project Description:
Biomedical engineering graduate students are currently working in my lab to create a microfluidic “tissue-on-a-chip” device that will allow for the growth and maintenance of 3D vascularized human tissues. These tissues will be used for screening the potential effects of novel drugs on human tissues and organs before resorting to costly pre-clinic animal models and human clinical trials. The devices currently contain a single, central incubation chamber in which the tissue is grown. This summer research project aims to build upon the design of the chip by incorporating multiple, identical tissue incubation chambers under the same microfluidic conditions. This involves redesigning the chip and simulating flow rates on CAD and COMSOL, fabricating chip molds in Cal Poly’s Microfabrication Lab, casting and plasma bonding chips, and validating simulated flow rates in the chambers of the final chip using fluorescent microscopy. Multiple tissue incubation chambers on a single chip will open the door for further tissue growth and drug response research that compares identical conditions across various tissue environments, while increasing the validity, reliability, and efficiency of this research. Planned future applications of this technology include rapid drug screening for cancer therapeutics and analyzing the effect of one drug on multiple parts of the body (i.e. multiple tissue types/organs on a single chip).

 

Faculty Name: Patrick Lemieux        
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Email: plemieux@calpoly.edu
Phone: (818) 427-7230
Title of Research Project: Development of Demonstrative Valve Actuation System for CAES-Enhanced Diesel Engine
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
A collaborative project on the development of a new thermodynamic power cycle combining reciprocating engines and compressed air energy storage is under way, lead by Cal Poly and the École de Téchnologie Supérieure (ÉTS – Montréal, Canada). In fact, a joint patent application is currently being filed on this idea by the two institutions. It is critical that for this effort, continuous progress continues to be made throughout the year, to facilitate an early and effective filing. I am already working with a group of UG students on the development of a key valve component for this project; the valve, as well as additional systems and methods for the demonstration of the new cycle, will continue to be tested and developed over the summer of 2019. The students who will work on this project have not been identified yet (the three mentioned above will be graduates by then… hopefully J), but I expect to have done so by the end of Spring Quarter.

 

Faculty Name:  Benjamin Hawkins
Department:  Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering
Email: bghawkin@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-6203
Title of Research Project: Electrical Characterization of Microfluidic Cell Culture
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
This project seeks to engage students in an ongoing research effort to grow and characterize cells in situ within a microfluidic system using a variety of metrology methods. Development of this platform requires development of a number of technologies which could be addressed as individual efforts or approached coherently as a team:

  1. Design, fabrication, and testing of temperature-controlled platform and enclosure for on-chip cell culture. This will involve design and fabrication of a heated support structure for microscope slides compatible with an existing microscope and incorporate closed-loop control of device temperature to optimize cell culture conditions. Measurement of cell culture rates will be used to optimize conditions.
  2. Design, fabrication, and testing of a system for automated multiplexed acquisition of impedance spectroscopy measurements from on chip cell culture. This will involve development of a LabView or MATLAB-based data acquisition program to control acquisition hardware. Verification of acquired signals from on-chip cell cultures will be compared to known baseline measurements.
  3. Microfabrication of metal electrode structures and microfluidic devices. This aspect of the project focuses on process and protocol development for reliable, durable and robust fabrication of microscale electrode structures deposited on fused silica substrate materials. Fabrication processes will be carried out in the Microfabrication facility.

 

Faculty Name:  Joseph Callenes-Sloan          
Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering   
Email: jcallene@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-5607
Title of Research Project:  Cyber-Security Attack Models and Algorithmic Approaches for Protecting Critical Infrastructure
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
As embedded systems become more ubiquitous, security and privacy has also become significant first order design concerns. In many application scenarios, the consequences of a security compromise can be devastating.  For example, operators of modern power grids use state estimation to monitor the condition of the system and conduct contingency analysis for power planning.  Any security attack on the state estimation algorithm can have devastating consequences.  State actors have already begun to successfully attack and disrupt power grids (e.g. the Ukrainian power grid experienced widespread disruptions in 2016 due to cyber-attacks). Unfortunately, current approaches to power grid security are ad hoc at best. The first part of this project involves cataloging potential attack vectors on the EE department’s new micro power grid (including their sensors and central Energy Management System (EMS)).  For the second part of the project, we will design approaches for protecting against attacks.  One approach involves transforming the state estimation algorithms into forms which inherently tolerate attacks, allowing for systems to withstand even previously unknown security attacks.

 

Faculty Name:  Foaad Khosmood
Department:  Computer Science & Software Engineering 
Email: foaad@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2911
Title of Research Project:  The 2048 Solver
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  1
Research Project Description:
2048 is a confined p-space complete game that lends itself to mathematical analysis. Games such as Go, sliding tile puzzles and backgammon have been subject to deep computational analysis. There have been at least two Ph.D. theses entirely on the sliding tile puzzles and optimal strategies to solving it. Two years ago, a Sr. Project student and myself looked into 2048, and analyzed some existing strategies. It is a relatively new game but there have been no major publications on it. We did about one quarter’s worth of work culminatiing in that students senior project (https://github.com/greengatz/senior_project). Now, I’m engaged in an indepdent study with another CS undergrad that continues the work leading toward more teangible outcomes in the analysis. We would like to continue this as a research project over summer. The idea is to come up with a heuristics-based solution that consistently works best over hundreds of game simulations.

 

Faculty Name:  Foaad Khosmood
Department:  Computer Science & Software Engineering 
Email: foaad@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-2911
Title of Research Project:  Social Information Management Game
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project:  1
Research Project Description:
This is an exciting project already worked on by several students last summer, but is far from completed. The idea is to build an engine that can be used to test social information based mechanics in massively multiplayer games. When the engine is completed, games relating to social networking, intellectual property, “fake news” and social information ecnomy are possible to design. The effort is a distributed architecture where a central server accepts and services clients which are players logging in from other machines. Along with any human players, any number of automated players can also join with a complete API available for bot designers to use. The system is designed such that it would be very difficult if not impossible to tell humans apart from bots, therefore solving a major problem in MMORPG developbment theory that has so far barred smaller studios and unviersities from creating such games.

 

Faculty Name: John Bellardo, Ph.D.
Department: Computer Science
Email: bellardo@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7256
Title of Research Project: Launch Environment Datalogger
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
All satellites are required to perform launch environment survivability tests prior to being approved to fly.  Each test runs the risk of damage or over fatiguing the test article.  As such, there is a strong desire to minimize the amount of over testing necessary.  One path to minimize over testing is to measure the in-situ launch environment for vibrations, shock, and temperature.  PolySat has developed one such satellite, the Launch Environment Observer (LEO), for NASA.  A number of poor decisions were made during the design of LEO that resulted a very specific spacecraft that doesn't work well across a wide variety of launch vehicles.  This project focuses on revisiting those design decisions, designing a new spacecraft, and fabricating engineering units for test.  This second generation instrument will place PolySat in a good strategic position to record launch performance data across a wide range of rockets.

 

Faculty Name: John Bellardo, Ph.D.
Department: Computer Science
Email: bellardo@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7256
Title of Research Project: Interplanetary CubeSat Deployer Design
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 1
Research Project Description:
Cal Poly’s CubeSat lab was instrumental in getting CubeSats accepted as a world-wide standard for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.  One key piece of that success was developing, testing, and operating a CubeSat deployer, the Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD).  The lab is looking to repeat this success in the interplanetary regime.  An interplanetary deployer is very different from a LEO dispenser.  During the summer of 2017 a small team of Cal Poly engineers worked in conjunction with engineers from JPL to design a concept for an interplanetary picosatellite deployer. The work conducted last summer included the creation of a concept of operations, development of initial requirements of the deployer, high level trade studies on risk assessment and component choices, as well as determining potential commercial off the shelf (COTS) component breakdowns. This summer, CubeSat will take the next steps towards design completion including a thorough analysis and high fidelity design of the communications system, determining deployment system electronics, developing a practical thermal system design, and determining structural elements of the deployer that will aim to  minimize mass and remain structurally viable.  We would also create requirements for CubeSat payloads, highlighting any changes from the CubeSat standard. The overall goal of the work to be completed during this summer is to have a fully designed deployer which is at the stage to be manufactured.

 

Faculty Name: Bruno C. da Silva
Department: Computer Science and Software Engineering
Email: bcdasilv@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 471-1531
Title of Research Project: Mining and Understanding Developers’ Coding Style from Public Software Repositories.
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Program Description:
Program comprehension has become an increasingly important aspect of the software development process. Research in this field has evolved considerably over the past decades. One of the findings points that the consistent use of standardized coding styles and conventions facilitate how developers read source elements and navigate through different program structures. Indeed, software development organizations, as well as software engineering and programming instructors around the world, recommend or even impose the use of particular coding styles in their programming tasks. For instance, Google made publicly available guidelines for coding styles in popular languages such as Java and Python. However, little is known about how developers around the world actually use different coding styles. Therefore, in this project, we expect to mine a large dataset of thousands of public software repositories from GitHub, which will involve parsing millions of lines of code, in order to first provide a broad view of what are the developers coding style choices across multiple projects in different sizes and programming languages. Second, we aim at analyzing whether developers' coding style match with well-known coding style sources such as Google's and Oracle's style guidelines. This will be the first study to mine developers’ coding style over a large dataset of public projects followed by a data analysis work.

 

Faculty Name: Graham Doig
Department: Aerospace Engineering
Email: gcdoig@calpoly.edu  
Phone: (805) 539-3355
Title of Research Project: Development of an “Intelligent Aerodynamics” Platform for Real World Machine Learning   
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
The high drag of heavy vehicles is a significant factor in worldwide transportation carbon emissions, and such vehicles are vulnerable to blow-over and aerodynamic instabilities. Wind tunnels and numerical simulations provide only simplified versions of real world conditions, and there exists almost no publicly-available on-road data of typical vehicle shapes and their aerodynamic effects. PROVE Lab is building a research-ready testbed that will be able to autonomously drive around a simple test track, with interchangeable bodywork that can be instrumented with cameras and pressure transducers/probes for continuous generation of huge datasets in different winds and turbulence levels. Thus, full-scale aerodynamic data can be obtained and analyzed in real time, opening a future door to predictive/adaptive drag reduction through flow control, or pre-emptive course correction in gusty conditions. Because we like acronyms, we’re calling this platform the AERoCAR: Adaptable Electric Robocar for Creative Aerodynamic Research, and it will be a world-first. There are two fairly distinctly different aspects to this that would suit students from different majors: development of the physical testbed and its instrumentation to be able to gather enough high quality data, and further development of an existing Random Forest algorithm that “learns” to understand and then predict what aerodynamic effects the vehicle is about to experience.

 

Faculty Name: Sara Bahrami
Department: Computer Science and Software Engineering
Email: sbahrami@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7178
Title of Research Project: A Closer Look at Big Data Software Engineering: Challenges & Opportunities
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
The significant growth in Big Data technologies and service market in recent years has generated a substantial amount of technical data. The Big Data technology and services market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2015 to 2020 and reach $58.9 billion in 2020. In the wake of this growing body of data, the technical and business communities have mainly focused on data analytics and Big Data infrastructures. However, there is a dire need for developing end-user applications to utilize Big Data in a broader range of application domains, referred to as Big Data applications. This massive scale of data has introduced new challenges developers face during the development and maintenance of Big Data applications that differ from those experienced by developers of traditional software applications. That necessitates evolving the traditional Software Engineering (SE) practices to overcome these challenges. Therefore, the SE community has recently introduced Big Data Software Engineering (BDSE) in 2015, in response to the current need of Big Data era. The ultimate objective of BDSE practices is to develop and maintain Big Data applications that methodologically differ from those of traditional SE ones. In order to achieve this goal, first we need to explore and analyze the challenges developers of Big Data applications face. In this project we propose several empirical studies that involve investigating and analyzing the development/maintenance processes of several open source projects in domain of big data applications. The analysis includes checking the source code comments, bug tracking repositories including bug discussion, analyzing the code change history of the project, among other steps. These analyses provide insights on the challenges developers typically face during a development session of a big data application. These insights later will be used to propose solutions for a set of observed challenges.

 

Faculty Name: Eltahry Elghandour
Department: Mechanical Engineering 
Email: eelghand@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-7178
Title of Research Project: Design and Development of a Backpack Frame Using Multifunctional Sustainable Materials
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
This project proposes designing and developing a lightweight, composite frame system that can be inserted into the main pocket of a school backpack and ensures that the backpack sits on the wearer in a manner that more adequately promotes healthy posture and weight distribution.  The frame will be manufactured from environmentally-friendly composite materials in order to utilize sustainable composite technology.  Modern trekking backpacks and military rucksacks employ rigid frames that allow the pack to conform to a body posture that reduces back pain and discomfort.  In contrast, school backpacks, which are often used to carry weights that are similarly harmful to the wearer, do not have any such frame and offer little to no support.  

 

Faculty Name: Amelia Greig
Department:  Aerospace Engineering 
Email: agreig@calpoly.edu
Phone: (805) 756-1526
Title of Research Project: Pocket Rocket Micro-Thruster Characterization
Number of Students to be Supported on Research Project: 2
Research Project Description:
A recent CPConnect project has led to the integration of an electrothermal plasma micro-thruster called ‘Pocket Rocket’ into a 1U CubeSat form factor, as a demonstration that the technology can be made sufficiently small and compact for micro-satellite operations. The next step in the development of the micro-thruster is to characterize the performance of the integrated thruster system for a variety of operating parameters and operational environments. Results of the characterization will be used to plan and propose a technology demonstration flight mission.

Submit a Project

A leader in engineering education, the College of Engineering promotes project-based learning to link theory with hands-on practice. Industry-sponsored projects provide an opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate, hone their engineering skills and develop solutions to sophisticated, real world problems. If you would like to sponsor a project in the College of Engineering, please fill out the form below and we will connect you with a faculty/student team that can work on your project, if appropriate. If you need further information, please contact:

Dr. Lily Laiho
Director of Interdisciplinary Projects
College of Engineering
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0350
llaiho@calpoly.edu
805.756.2172

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