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Winners of the 2014 ECE Senior Design Workshop Announced

From left: Don Blackman, vice president of Sales & Marketing for ASCO Power Technologies, a unit of Emerson Network Power, who is Vice Chair of the ECE Industry Advisory Board and a judge in the competition; Eric Nyangwono '14; Violeta Penachi '14; Anthony Enriquez '14; Oscar Velez '15 and Leonid Tsybeskov, Department Chair.

A robot programmed to interpret spoken English and translate it into American Sign Language (ASL) using its arms, hands, and fingers was the top finisher in this year’s Helen and John C. Hartmann Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Senior Design Workshop.

The device was one of 13 projects presented at the competition and among four to win a prize in what faculty described as an especially strong showing this year. For their efforts, the robot’s four-member design and fabrication team won a gift card for use at the campus bookstore and received certificates and a plaque.

“We see this as a useful device in places where live interpreters are not always available, as in airports and schools,” said Anthony Enriquez ’14, a computer engineering major from Bloomfield and member of the team, along with Eric Nyangwono ’14, an electrical engineering major from Jersey City, Violeta Penachi ’14, a computer engineering major from Cliffside Park, and Oscar Velez ’15, an electrical engineering major from Clifton.

The robot uses voice recognition software to identify common words such as hello, goodbye, eat, and drink and sends commands to micro-controllers activating a mechanism that moves the arms, hands, and specific fingers, which were fabricated with a 3D printer.

“We tested it so many times that we actually wore out an elbow, but now it’s complete. It’s just a matter of continuing to program new words at this point,” Enriquez added.

“The movements representing sigh language were realistic and precise as confirmed by a deaf person participating in testing,” noted Marek Sosnowski, the associate chair for undergraduate studies of the ECE department, who called the project “very impressive.”

The second place winner was a device to be worn by firefighters with monitoring and communications capability, among other safety features. Firefighters participated in specifying and evaluating the design features.

An economical monitoring device capable of sensing temperature and humidity, detecting intruders, and displaying real-time video images remotely from a computer or mobile device was the third-place finisher.

The fourth-place winner was a motorcycle helmet prototype called “Helmet View 360” that enhances vehicle safety with proximity sensors, video feedback, and a wide-angle camera to make it easier for the rider to survey the surroundings. The second, third and fourth-place teams received certificates and bookstore gift cards.

“The judges, members of the ECE Industrial Advisory Board, commented that they had a hard time making their selections – all of the participating students were winners,” Sosnowski said.