Blue sky thinking, real world applications
Dublin City University is the university of enterprise, said its president Professor Brian MacCraith.
Speaking at the annual exposition of final year student projects from the faculty of engineering and computing, Prof McCraith said that the diversity and range of the projects was a testament to the university’s aim of fostering innovative and enterprising minds.
This was evidenced in particular, said the president, by the automated beet washer project by Jason Cross and the electric shovel by Gearoid Dennis De Cleir, which have already garnered commercial interest.
But more evidence of the real world value of the projects was seen in the broad themes being addressed by the students. Sensor technologies, mobility, cloud enabled systems, software abstraction of hardware functions and, of course, the Internet of Things (IoT) were all recurrent themes across various projects, both in engineering and computing.
The expo has been running for almost 30 years, but for the last five has included both the engineering and computing students, but this year it expanded to include projects from the BSc in computational problem solving and software development (CPSSD). Entry for this degree, which had first intake in 2013, is not based on CAO points but rather on a programming and project portfolio. Professor Barry McMullin, executive dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, DCU, said that this was capitalising on the Coder Dojo trend whereby people are teaching themselves coding skills and putting them to use in developing their own systems and applications.
A small smattering of notable projects from the day included Cian Nolan’s haptic feedback for pilots that warned of aerodynamic slip in an aircraft, and direction to correct; Aida Olaru and John Noel Monks investigated the enhancing experience on 2d and 3D, respectively, entertainment of additional sensory inputs, such as olfactory and air flows; Ian Duffy’s CarCloud consisted of a mobile and web app and backend processing that collected car telemetry to inform the driver and potentially allow insurers or emergency services to monitor and reward safe driving; Lorrain Keane and Brian Deasy used analytics for social media sentiment monitoring, where ranking engine criteria can determine whether a user and tweet can be deemed ‘trusted’; and Shane Griffin, Jacques Fay and Levon Vasilyan created the Alzafind Wristband, supported by a smart phone and web app, which is a GPS tracking system for Alzheimer’s patients.
“DCU set out to be at the cutting edge of these developments,” said Professor McMullin, referencing the megatrends of cloud computing, mobility, analytics and the IoT.
The main sponsor, SAP, was represented by Aishling Mulholland, a graduate of DCU, who in 2012 was placed with the company as part of the university’s integrated training programme. Subsequently, Mulholland joined the company and now works in its IT planning and capacity management division, which she said was further evidence of efficacy of the faculty’s approach.
Among the attendees were representatives from various organisations and sectors, from the technology giants such as SAP, IBM and Google, engineering companies and consultancy houses, and locals such as TerminalFour and Version 1.
A booklet detailing the full range of projects has been created by the expo organiser and marketing officer for the faculty of engineering and computing, Christine Stears, which can be downloaded from the final year project web page.