Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Updates on current projects
October 8th, 2015

On October 5th (Monday), we had a meeting with Sustain U, a committee responsible for sustainable initiatives at our student union. As we would like to implement the paraSOL project on one of the terraces in the student union, we are working with Sustain U to move forward with our ideas.

We presented our solar charging table project to the Sustain U committee, Sustain U’s assistants, Sylvia and Kathy, and CSULB’s Recycling Coordinator, Lee Johnson. They were very excited to see a collective group of students working together to improving sustainability on campus and opening people’s minds to the impact of energy emissions. After our presentation, we opened the floor for questions and suggestions. We got a range of questions from safety concerns, electrical grounding, the location, and the budget. Some critical factors we have to consider is the pathway access to the 3rd floor of our student union; whether the table can fit into a building’s freight elevator, whether the table can be taken apart for storage, and who will professionally install the table to meet code regulations.

There are still a ways before we can actually start on constructing this project, but we have received a lot of support and help. We are also working with the International Society of Automation (ISA) chapter at CSULB in designing the tables. We are excited to see what cool things we can do with this project!

CSULB Tables

Regular tables at the Southwest Terrace of the University Student Union.

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The following post was provided to us by Emmanuel Balami from the University Putra in Malaysia.  Thank you, Emmanuel, for sharing this news about your work!

High-Tech Public Utility Management

Following global concerns about Sustainable Development, and Environmental issues, it has become imperative to innovate, so, the idea of using embedded systems and ICT to help our world efficiently manage resource. These resources (water, energy, and food) are not only scarce but grossly mismanaged or wasted by the public. This module is a contribution in facilitating Responsible ConsumptionChange of Attitude by the public toward public utility, especially where governments subsidise these resources for the poor and also to schools and large populations. Organisations/countries that are providing aids to poor countries may wish to take advantage of this module in providing services to humanity, and also, there will be no need for subsidy coupons for countries offering that.

Here are some photos that show the system components and a demo:

Emmanuel util mgt demo2   Emmanuel util mgt demo   Emmanuel util mgt demo5Emmanuel util demo 3



Additional information on the project may be obtained by contacting Emmanuel Luke (bel) BALAMI

balami emmanuel luke - bel

Emmanuel wishes to thank IBM-USA, for funding this project to a successful execution, and Wendy Murphy, for selecting this project & her unflinching support and guidance.  And, if you’d like to learn more about Universiti Putra Malaysia, please click the logo:  Putra U (Malaysia) logo

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May 14th, 2015

We made a small video explaining what the project is and some screenshots of what the final outcome of the project will look like. The video also gives details about our approach and the use of crowd sourcing in building our custom data set.

More details about the current work going on and the challenges we faced will be posted soon!

Please find the concept video at the below link.

Concept Video

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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) (such as EdX and Coursera) have initiated a revolution in higher education by providing opportunities for interested students to learn from the comfort of their individual locations at their desired pace. However, an important and highly successful aspect of traditional classroom education, which is modulating content delivery based on understanding real-time student feedback, is conspicuously missing in such e-learning environments.While existing e-learning environments provide a basic technology framework, the personalization of such environments with human-in-the-loop feedback is still missing. This project, e-DRIShTI, aims to bridge this gap by developing a system for automatic recognition of students’ engagement levels during e-learning sessions, using advanced computer vision and machine learning methods.

Considering the ubiquitous presence of cameras in consumer devices such as tablets and laptops, it is possible now to develop a system that can detect and recognize student engagement levels from the face images captured by the camera during the e-learning sessions. Such a system has several applications towards smarter, personalized e-learning environments: (i) it can allow for content to be modified based on a student’s engagement level; (ii) it can be used as feedback for curriculum development; (iii) it can potentially be used as a diagnostic for early detection of learning disabilities; and (iv) it can be stored and archived as part of students’ learning portfolios which can later be mined or analyzed for providing feedback to the students. In general, this project can lead to a more concerted, larger effort on automatically obtaining real-time student feedback – including other states such as confusion, boredom, excitement and interest – towards an effective personalized e-learning experience.

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February 5th, 2015

We were hoping this post would include details on our research trip to Belize during January.  Unfortunately, a team member was in an accident, which caused us to postpone our trip until this spring.  However, we do have some information to share on preparations to date and future plans.

Equipment Builds

Plenty of hours were spent preparing our equipment for the trip.  Much of time was spent on completing the assembly of our “Game of Drones” build, affectionately known as Motley (see figure below).


I designed the dome/lid (white, seen in the middle of Motley) and had it printed on a 3D printer in our Center for Design and Fabrication.  An idea from our friends at UAV-America suggests that we add a bit of plasti-dip to the dome edge and inner rim of the frame to secure the fitting, since the lid does not quite snap into place.  All of the components were oriented and re-seated within this hardier frame.  The newly-combined GPS receiver and magnetometer can now be mounted externally on the dome (note: the GPS/magnetometer are not shown in the above image).  We are able to fit two LiPo (lithium polymer) batteries inside the cavity and we await warmer weather – or a trip to the indoor gymnasium – to test Motley’s flight characteristics.

We also invested additional time building our Aquacopter UAV (see picture below).  The Aquacopter is a durable frame that, as the name implies, is specially built for water environments.  The frame and components arrived in early December, not leaving much time to build or modify.  With help from UAV-America and additional hours in our lab,  we were to get the motors generating lift and the quad up in the air.  However, we are still experiencing irregular flight characteristics, primarily with unpredictable and unresponsive yaw motion.  The motors may be slightly pitched in their mounting, which would cause these issues.

Future plans include adding shims under the motors, performing test flights to find the cause of the problem (and therefore fix the yaw), and also determine if the Aquacopter can actually float. This would give it a significant edge over Motley in our data collection, because being able to retrieve the quad from a water landing is crucial.



Travel Preparations

We also spent time reading and understanding FAA regulations governing what types of batteries are allowed on commercial flights.  Specifically, we reviewed the Delta Airlines baggage restrictions to understand what size and quantity LiPo batteries we can pack and transport in our carry on bags.  As Christine writes:

I’ve looked at the restrictions on carrying on lithium batteries and the only restrictions I can find are that you can only have two batteries that are “large”, or between 8 and 25 grams of lithium and between 100 and 160 watt hours. None of our batteries are anywhere close to those restrictions, so according the guidelines you sent me we can take as many of our batteries as we want to. These can’t be damaged and must be put in their original packaging (or, if we don’t have that, then we just need to insulate the battery terminals from metal or other batteries). Also, we have to make sure that there won’t be a lot of pressure on the batteries at any time. All the batteries must be in carry on.

We are taking extra precautions to print and adhere to these regulations, and plan to adhere a print-out with an inventory of batteries stored in each battery safe bag to the outside of our carry-on luggage.  Hopefully, this will save time and confusion as we proceed through the airport security area!

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