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Class Projects


Paul Szauter, Project List, 1/18/2012

1. Landmine Clearance. There are millions of landmines buried in former conflict zones. The aim of this project is to facilitate civilian landmine clearance through international agreements and technological innovation. Successful solutions will reduce the cost of landmine clearance and reduce the danger to personnel involved in landmine clearance.
2. Emergency Shelters. Two years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, many people are still living in tents. The Red Cross has built many shed-like shelters for eathquake victims, but the pace of the deployment of shelters has been slow. The aim of this project is to design low-cost shelters that can be built quickly using, if possible, local materials and labor.
3. Colony Collapse Disorder. Domesticated honeybees are essential to pollinate many agricultural crops. Colony Collapse Disorder is a complex disorder that causes the loss of entire hives. The aim of this project is to develop improved strategies to monitor, understand, and prevent Colony Collapse Disorder.
4. Improve Sample Prep for Ion Torrent Sequencing. Ion Torrent sequencing is a massively parallel sequencing strategy based on integrated circuit technology. Sample preparation requires approximately eight hours. The aim of this project is to develop techniques to reduce the sample preparation time to four hours or less. This project is a current challenge from Innocentive.
5. Free Speech For All. The Arab Spring of 2011 was fueled by the ease of mass communication in countries under tyranny. During the various uprisings, governments attempted to block communication within their countries and between their populations and the outside world. The aim of this project is to develop strategies to make it virtually impossible for individual governments to block the transmission of messages, voice, images, and video among all the people in the world.
6. Smart Vending Machines. Current vending machines do not operate in a way that reflects the value of information in the information age. The aim of this project is to develop smart vending machines that permit improved delivery of high-margin goods to consumers while collecting information that can be used to increase profitability.
7. Smart Shopping Environments. Current shopping environments feature individual merchants that do not share data with each other or with the owners of malls and other shopping areas. The aim of this project is to improve sales in smart shopping environments through data mining, cross-marketing, and advertisements that adapt rapidly to the population of shoppers.
8. Key to the City. Many merchants use reward cards and loyalty programs to track the purchases of individual customers. Customers are forced to carry a separate reward card for each merchant with such a program. The aim of this project is to develop a single reward card for a city or shopping enviroment that reduces the number of such cards that a consumer must carry. Such a card would facilitate horizontal integration of marketing for a city or shopping environment.
9. Cell Phones in Performance Spaces. The widespread use of cell phones makes the interruption of concerts, live theater, or movies a common experience. The aim of this project is to explore means to silence all cell phones in a performance space without requiring any action on the part of patrons. The method should allow the immediate restoration of cell phone service in the event of an emergency.
10. Airport Security. Measures to ensure airport security are intrusive and inconvenient to passengers, and not completely effective in enforcing secuity. The aim of this project is to improve the methods used to provide airport security to reduce the inconvenience to travelers without compromising security.
11. Home Energy Efficiency Through Smart Controls. A new thermostat, designed by a former Apple engineer, learns patterns of energy usage as homeowners use the thermostat. The aim of this project is to improve energy efficiency through smart devices controlling other aspects of home energy use.
12. Simplified Lab Techniques. Many routine laboratory techniques are not as foolproof as they could be. The aim of this project is to increase the reliability of laboratory techniques through simplification and standardization, without regard to cost.
13. Why Doesn't Your Cell Phone Talk to Your Car? Smartphones are widespread. Cars are increasingly equipped with complex electronics. The aim of this project is to explore areas in which a secure interaction between smartphones and automobiles would be useful.
14. Reading Glasses for the Blind. Devices that convert text to speech for the blind have shrunk from the size of a copier to the size of a smartphone. The aim of this project is to explore whether a text-to-speech system could be adapted to a pair of eyeglasses that recognized text in the field of view and converted it to speech.