The Five Greatest Electrical Engineering Achievements from 2015

The engineering world is experiencing tremendous progress and exponential growth thanks to the dedication of individuals with a passion for technology advancements.

Thanks to these fervent few, our world has benefited from new broadened and prosperous technologies that are changing our lived. In 2015, the electrical engineering world showed us all wonderful advancements and achievements in the form of the following achievements, to name a few.

 

1. Electric Powered Personal Flying Machine 

Figure 1

 

A group of student engineers created an entanglement of motors, propellers, and inflated landing gear set within a hexagonal frame they have named Snowstorm. This electric-powered aircraft is capable of vertical take-off and landing controlled by a single passenger. The prototype vehicle is capable of holding up to 70kg for approximately 5 minutes.

The students designed and implemented the craft's electronic control and stabilization system, a pilot safety system, and an electric energy management and supply system where the three batteries that power the craft can function independently in the event any of the batteries malfunction. The aircraft was designed and built in one-year's time and includes 3-D printed parts for the landing gear mount.

For safety, the team has also worked in a separate switch that can be controlled from the ground to end the flight and bring the machine to a landing, should the pilot lose control of the machine. Their goals with this machine is to be able to fly freely, just as they have always wanted to.

 

2. HyperCam – Hyperspectral Camera at a Lower Cost


Figure 2

Computer science and electrical engineers have created a camera that uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to see beneath surfaces as well as the unseen details behind them. This type of technology is known to be incredibly expensive and hard to use, but HyperCam programmers detailed a hardware solution that could potentially be added to a mobile phone camera for $50. It uses the visible and near-infrared peats of the electromagnetic spectrum to illuminate a scene with 17 different wavelengths.

 

3. Energy Storage Device from Nature

Image of an iphone with the headphones, usb cable and ac adapter

Engineers have taken the step to create energy storage devices that can power multiple devices, all the way from a smart watch to a hybrid car. Using cellulose, an organic compound found in plants, bacteria, algae, and trees, to build more efficient and longer-lasting energy storage devices paves the way toward a multitude of other advances.

The type of nanocellulose used is called cellulose nanocrystals. They have been glued together at random points forming a mesh-like structure with lots of open space, hence the extremely lightweight nature of the material. This can be used to produce more sustainable capacitor devices with higher power density and faster charging abilities compared to rechargeable batteries.

 

4. Electrical Power Converter that Allows Grid to Easily Accept Power from Renewable Energy

Field with solar panels

Engineering researchers, at the University of Arkansas, have developed a power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system.

The researcher's high-frequency matrix converter addresses the shortcomings of the current, renewable energy conversions systems with its simplified control system. This system uses power converters to allow connection of a variety of power sources to a small, high-frequency transformer. Then, with the use of a high-frequency matrix converter, it produces stable electricity ready to be supplied to the electrical grid system.

 

5. Developing Technology for Autism and Behavioral Therapy

 

A second-year doctoral student at the University of Kentucky is working towards a more effective, technology-based way to support children with Autism. This program is called “MEBook”, and is a social narrative and gaming system that psychologists and parents can use as behavioral therapy for children on the Autism spectrum.

Research shows that, when working with a specific autistic child, using the image of their own face to teach them appropriate behaviors is most effective. For example, if you wanted the child to smile you could take a picture of the child, then MEBook would take the same picture and make a picture of the child smiling with it.  This teaches the child how to interact in a new and advanced way.

 

Credit to Science Daily for providing the above engineering achievements, and a special thanks to the wonderful minds who are advising our lives and making technology, and our world, more accessible. These engineering feats are just the beginning of more to come.

Figure 1 Photo Source: Don Wong at National University of Singapore
Figure 2 Photo Source: University of Washington

 

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