Systems Exploration, Engineering, and Design (SEED) Laboratory

SEED Lab is a semester-long design and build activity centered around a challenge problem that varies from year to year. Solving this problem requires the design and prototyping of a complex system and utilizes concepts from multiple electrical engineering courses. Students work in intra-disciplinary teams, with students focusing a particular subsystem.

Funding for the SEED lab has been generously provided by Epilog Laser

Course Objectives

  • Design and debug integrated systems as an intra-disciplinary team.
  • Design experiments and gather data to solve engineering problems and/or demonstrate performance of sub-systems or systems.
  • Predict the performance of a designed system and verify their predictions experimentally. 
  • Work effectively in intra-disciplinary teams to solve engineering problems.
  • Engage in reflective learning and demonstrate an ability to engage in life-long learning.

Course Features

  • The project requires expertise in more than one area of EE
  • Students choose specialization and work in groups to complete the project
  • The project requires multiple systems to be integrated
  • Success requires finding and utilizing information about subsystems, along with building, testing and debugging hardware and software
  • Project design includes the development and validation of system and component models
  • Part of the course grade depends on the performance of the built system at a series of demonstrations
  • Undergraduate Course Assistants provide guidance and assistance

SEED Lab Projects

AY 19/20

A challenging yet promising arena for robots is for search and rescue in dangerous areas. This provides the inspiration for this year’s challenge project: as a team, you will build and program a mobile robot that is able to explore an area that is known only as the robot starts to explore. In this challenge, six beacons of your design will be placed on the ground to denote the exploration area. The robot must be able to traverse a path around the outside of these beacons, but cannot stray too far away, or cut inside the beacons. That is, the robot must complete a circuit that contains the the area defined by straight lines drawn between beacons, but cannot go more than 1.5 feet away from this area at any time. 

The spring semester had an extra challenge as classes when remote in the middle of March. Each team selected one person to take all of the equipment, and the other team members worked on the Raspberry Pi and Arduino by installing the Arduino IDE on the Raspberry Pi and using a VNC virtual desktop to work on the Raspberry Pi remotely. Teams were already using tools like Github to coordinate their work, but Zoom was essential for team meetings and debugging. Because of these extra challenges, the final project objective was changed to finding a single beacon and circumnavigating around it. The teams were able to demonstrate remotely using Zoom, with some of the demos shown in the video below

AY 18/19

As a team, you will build and program a mobile robot that is able to follow a prescribed path. In order to define the path, you will build beacons that the robot can view using a camera. The path will be defined as points on an x/y grid (with units of feet) that the robot must visit in order. You can place as many or few of your beacons as you wish on the floor in order for the robot to execute this path. 

AY 17/18

Your employer would like to develop an automated warehouse with small robots that will carry goods from where they are stored to where they are packed and shipped. Your team is assigned to design and build a prototype device. This prototype must be able to determine its current position and orientation using lighted beacons that are located at fixed, known locations along the sides of the warehouse, and the proceed to desired locations within the warehouse as specified by coordinates.

 

AY 16/17

Your employer would like to develop an automated warehouse with small robots that will carry goods from where they are stored to where they are packed and shipped. Your team is assigned to design and build a prototype device. This prototype must be able to following the directions around the warehouse, which are given by signs. The signs include left arrows, right arrows, and stop signs. The robot should be able to detect a sign, travel towards it, and then follow the directions (turn left, turn right, or stop).

AY 15/16

Your employer has determined that a highly maneuverable robot with small footprint that can carry items from one location to another has a viable market for sale to hospitals and in other institutional settings. Your team is assigned to design and build a prototype device, which is a two-wheeled balancing robot that can cary cargo to a desired destination. This prototype should be self balancing, and able to move in a straight line. While many balancing robots use a complete inertial measurement unit (IMU) that incorporates a gyrometer, accelerometer, and compass, these sensors are quite expensive. Your boss has asked you to balance using the robot using only a gyrometer, which measures angular velocity. Other available sensors are wheel encoders, line sensors, and ultrasonic sensors. It should be able to receive commands wirelessly, which include: stop and hold position, move forward, and move to target. The robot should also be able to detect obstacles and stop if detected. For the demonstrations, the cargo will be a 1 liter water bottle filled with varying amounts of water.