Ga. Tech Summer 2021 Capstone project judging

This is a brief summary of my participation in yesterday’s Capstone Summer mini-expo at Ga. Tech (July 28, 2021), my third as a virtual judge.

It was supposedly a hybrid event, but other than hearing some possibly relevant background chatter during one presentation, I don’t know how they did the live presentation. I participated virtually using Gatherly again (see previous Notes from a Virtual Capstone Expo.)

This virtual Capstone session worked about the same as the previous two, perhaps a little smoother. That may be because this time I had to compress my participation due to a late-scheduled music rehearsal, so I took advantage of several opportunities the expo set-up offered. I received my five judging assignments by e-mail mid-morning, and also received the link to the pre-prepared presentations, each of which which included a poster and a video.

The normal expo procedure is for each team to start their presentation at the quarter-hour, starting at 4:15, and ending at 5:45. Since that was a tight squeeze for my schedule, I decided to get a head start by reviewed the 5 videos, and I was then able to “pre-judge” the teams based on the videos and their posters.

Following the introductory welcome, the presentations started, and I was able to wander between presentations and get additional information beyond what I learned from the videos. The RocketJudge system allows you to change your ratings and comments freely during the entire judging interval — your final version is what gets automatically transmitted to RocketJudge when the judging interval ends.

I think one reason I was able to wander around independent of the schedule without interrupting the flow, was because attendance was relatively low, and also because of how the Gatherly display works: I could see at a glance how many people were listening to a particular team, and pick one that looked like a small group, perhaps just the team members themselves.

There turned out to be a grand total of 8 teams presenting. (Hence, “mini”.) Three projects were sponsored by TTI, manufacturers of Ryobi and other tool brands, three by Delta Airlines, and two were independently conceived and funded. I judged 2 Deltas, one Ryobi, and two indies.

Here’s a quick review of the teams and projects I judged:

Parking Pals – Aircraft Parking
This team was asked to design a system to ensure parking chocks are properly placed whenever an aircraft stops at the gate, and to similarly ensure the checks have been removed and stored in their charging caddy. They use pressure switches and wireless, mesh-like networking to report their status.

Lav Rats – Vertical Default Toilet Seat
This team was asked to solve the problem of unwanted liquid left on airplane toilet seats; the solution had to fit the existing space, be more or less automatic, but could not use any electrical components.

Rowbotics – RowMotion
This team decided to attach sensors to a rowing ergometer to provide feedback to the rower on whether they were using the correct form. The design the came up with used a rotation sensor on the main shaft and a belt-driven transducer attached to the bottom of the sliding seat to feed into a small visual display.

Smart Structures – Smart Structures
This team decide to explore ways to improve “3-d concrete printing” which is used to make durable and inexpensive houses. They designed a continuous mixer system to provide a steady but flexible flow of concrete to the “print head”, and also explored the use of Aircrete, a lighter weight form of concrete. They compared the strength of Aircrete to regular concrete.

Origami Chainsaws – String Trimmer Anti-Vibration System
TTI asked this team to reduce the vibration transmitted to users of their new electric string trimmer. There were multiple production parameters and restrictions that their solution needed to meet. As part of evaluating their solution, they had to invent a rig to suspend the test trimmer and measure the amount of vibration for the original design, plus two modification options they considered.

Additional details

At the time of this writing, expo projects current and past were available here:

https://expo.gatech.edu/prod1/portal/portal.jsp?c=17462&p=413142918&g=413665364

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