Industry projects

Silicon wafer in machine

We partner with local firms to give students applied experience in solving the kinds of problems they may encounter in their careers. Students work with design constraints and safety considerations, provide feedback, and often build and test prototypes. Some projects give students a chance to participate in development of a commercial product in industry.

Sample projects include:

Mechanical engineering projects

Crimper Design: Sigma Design, an engineering design and consultation firm in Vancouver, Wash., requested an automatic crimping tool to crimp a variety of terminals and improve their daily operations. Through a step-wise process of planning, conceptualization and analysis, the design team came up with two potential solutions.

Electric End Effector Design: For Columbia Machine, a team of four students designed and built a prototype of an electric end effector to be mounted to a gantry system and able to manipulate different size boxes of products traveling on a conveyor system.

Press Cleaner Design: WaferTech specializes in the production of silicon wafers. Many hazardous materials are used in the process and safe disposal is a necessity. To improve safety, WaferTech requested a semi-automated plate cleaning system requiring no human interaction. Students came up with a design that incorporates the use of a winch to move a cleaning head assembly along the surface of the separated filter plates, reducing labor costs as well as improving safety.

Magnetic Position System for uCAN’11 Competition: The StingRay MPS design project is a simple magnetic position system designed to easily integrate into computer technologies. The design uses two magnetic beacons to generate two discrete magnetic fields. Integrated with a microcontroller, the device can generate a pattern of signals, analyze the resulting sensor output and transmit the information necessary to identify the position of the sensor. This system provides an affordable alternative to current technologies and can be modified to fit multiple applications. The project was one of two top chosen projects in the U.S. and went on to take 3rd place at the international competition in China.

Air Leak Detector Design: Logitech requested an air leak detector to detect leaks within speakers. The students’ design is based on the pressure versus volume change. If a leak is detected, the volume should be slightly different compared with a “good” batch of speakers. It would be simple for people using the detector to pass or reject the speaker.

Electrical engineering projects

Optical Encoder Measurement System: US Digital produces optical encoder modules for rotary and linear motion sensing. An optical rotary encoder outputs signals when a code-wheel is rotated past the sensor. In this project, students worked with US Digital engineers to develop a hardware element capable of monitoring and measuring the timing parameters and implement it into current USB4 device by designing a FPGA coding scheme.

Motion Estimation/Compensation Architecture and Implementation: Intel wanted students to design an energy-efficient motion estimator for video applications. The objective was to reduce the size of transmitted video while maintaining high video quality. Students researched and implemented a video encoder using motion estimation into MATLAB software and Verilog hardware description language.

Laser Front Panel Control PCB design: This project designed and produced a front control panel for a new laser system produced by nLight. The tasks included panel and PCB layout, circuit simulation, electronics components selection and firmware design.

Ride Through Device Analysis: Power ride through device (RTD) is a critical tool to protect equipment used by WaferTech for IC fabrication from power sag and outage. In this project, electrical engineering students analyzed RTD in collaboration with WaferTech engineers. A testing circuit was built with performance of the output power from the device during the loss of single and multiple phases of the input power under different circumstances fully characterized.

Computer science projects

Virtual Worlds: Sharp Laboratories of America (SLA) is the U.S. research and development (R&D) subsidiary for Sharp Corporation of Japan. In this project, a team of five students built a virtual world generator using the Unity game engine. Based on a set of environmental parameters, such as weather, season, scene, etc., this tool automatically generates a synthetic reality, which can be used to train machine learning algorithms to identify objects under different conditions.

Volcano Alert System: The United States Geological Survey (USGS) serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth, minimize loss from natural disasters, and enhance and protect the quality of life. A team of 5 students designed a web-based volcano alert system which monitors the data streams collected by the sensors USGS deployed on the volcanoes in the region. The system automatically generates alerts if potential hazardous events are detected.

Parking Tracker: South Waterfront Community Relations (SWCR) is a non-profit organization which aims to develop and promote community building activities in Portland’s South Waterfront. A team of four students developed an Android app which utilizes OCR technologies to automate the process of tracking street parking density. This app helps SWCR gain a detailed understanding of on-street parking habits of Portland residents.

Ride Share Mobile App: Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, TeamSnap helps coaches, parents and players manage their recreational, competitive and youth sports teams. Using TeamSnap’s APIs, a team of five students developed an iOS app, Ride Share. This app allows users to easily arrange rides to scheduled events. In addition, the app also provides users a unified means of communication with other team members.

Mobile Agent Portal: AgencyRM LLC, based in San Antonio, TX, is a field Marketing Organization which provides innovative services, systems, and contracting to independent Agents and Agencies throughout the United States. A team of five students designed and implemented a mobile app which mirrors the Agent Portal functionalities the company provides via their website.