My name is Scarlet Gray and I attended Airline High School in Bossier City, Louisiana. I am a Sophomore Electrical Engineering student with a Biomedical Specialization. Originally a prospective Chemistry major, my ambition was to have a career in the field of Genetic or Biomedical Engineering. When I mentioned this to the recruiting staff at SMU, I was immediately introduced to the Biomedical Specialization of Electrical Engineering in the Lyle School of Engineering and have since fell in love with the program and the school.
When I learned about the Immersion Design Experience (IDE) that Lyle offers, I immediately applied to be a part of it. An IDE, housed in the Lyle School of Engineering’s Innovation Gym, is a project in which a challenging design is taken on by a team of students who complete the project in a span of only ten days. Last May, with a team of students ranging across engineering disciplines, from freshmen to seniors, the purpose of our project was to construct an autonomous device, capable of creating a panoramic depth map (3D image) of a room. During the project, my focus was the autonomous motion of the device. In order to create an image of the entire room, the camera and projector had to be mounted on a rotating turntable. More specifically, the projector and camera lenses need to rotate about the same point while staying stable.
After creating a platform, we needed a motor with enough torque to spin the platform while not disturbing the camera fixed on top of it. Trial and error was important for this process, as I tested about ten motors before finding a successful fit. Upon having a motor capable of spinning the device, the task of programming the motor to respond to the commands of how far to spin, how fast to spin, when to pause, and what direction to go could begin. To control the motor rotating the platform, we used a small circuit board controlled by Arduino.
This was my first experience programming a motor. Through research, the help of my team members, and using skills from my introductory computer science course, I was able to accomplish this. The next step was to collaborate and combine this function with other pieces of the project. After the project I learned to both assemble and program the circuit board, along with the chance to test my knowledge of physics to find an optimum motor for the machine. I believe it is important to experience the “hands-on” facets of engineering. While lectures and labs introduce students to material, after graduation the ability to apply the material I learned in college directly will be crucial. Working on a project such as this provided me with the unique opportunity to really learn by error and integrate skills that have assisted me in my later classes and subsequently my future experience as an engineer.
On campus, I really enjoy being involved in community council in the position of floor president as well as being a Residence Hall Association delegate. I am the secretary of the Association for Computing Machinery at SMU and this gives me the opportunity to be involved in the engineering community outside of the classroom and have a role in student run projects and activities.