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I'm a fifth year Electrical Engineering student at Michigan Technological University and I'm preparing to graduate in December 2014! I'm currently enrolled in EE4777 - Open Source 3-D Printing. Before taking this class I didn't know very much about 3-D Printing but the topic was intriguing to me as I've begun to hear a lot about 3-D printing, so that's what brought me here.
I enjoy a lot of the computer sided aspects of electrical engineering, such as programming micro-controllers and digital logic. I also want to get better at programming in general so I can pursue a masters degree in computer engineering someday. I'm currently a registered Apple iOS Developer and although I don't have any apps on the App Store at the moment, I've learned bits and pieces of Objective C over the last couple of the years and I hope to have an app approved in the near future.
Senior Design[edit | edit source]
One highlight I've had at Michigan Tech is Senior Design. Senior Design was a lot of work, but in the end it was a great learning experience! I was the team manager for a project sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway, and the Rail Transportation Program here at Michigan Tech.
Project Background[edit | edit source]
Every time railroad crews need to work on track near railroad crossings, it is necessary for the crews to disable the crossing signals otherwise their work vehicles (such as tampers or high rail vehicles) will cause the railroad crossing to activate sporadically. A railroad crossing works by having a special piece of equipment (crossing predictor) use the track as a circuit. As a train approaches the crossing predictors track circuit, the train shunts the circuit. While shunting the track, the voltage on the track lowers as the train approaches the railroad crossing (due to the lowering of the resistance in the track). The crossing predictor uses this decreasing voltage to determine when to activate the crossing signals. A railroad crew disables the crossing signals by using a jumper cable connected to a voltage source to "jump" the crossing predictor and cause it to read a steady voltage. The steady voltage then prevents it from detecting a train or work vehicle. On rare occasions, work crews have forgotten their jumper cables and left the crossing signals disabled after they've left. Our team's goal was to solve the problem of forgotten jumper cables.
Project Solution[edit | edit source]
Our team came up with a solution that could reactivate the crossing signals if the jumper cables were ever forgotten. We designed a device that would replace the jumper cables by creating an improved jumper cable. The device would utilized a micro controller that would have jumper cables and a switching circuit attached to it. The jumper cables would be connected as normally except the micro controller would monitor the voltage from the crossing predictor. The micro controller would be specially programmed to distinguish between a work vehicle and a train. When a train is detected by the micro controller, the micro controller would flip the switch on the switching circuit which would deactivate that jumper cables and reactive the crossing signals.
3-D Printing Interests[edit | edit source]
As one who enjoys both mobile application development and micro controller programming, I've been highly interested in smart home devices such as SmartThings or Z-Wave Technologies. Using 3-D printing, I'm interested in designing custom home devices that could be used with custom programmed Arduino micro controllers (since I own an Arduino UNO). A simple example would be to use an Arduino to display messages on an LCD with a custom 3-D printed case around the Arduino and LCD to create one single device that could be used in your home. My goal is to finish something special related to this for the Money Project in the class EE4777 at Michigan Tech.