CU Denver computer science students create surveillance system for Design Competition

Diane Yoha explains that her team’s senior engineering project recently did exactly what it’s designed to: catch students in the act of bringing beverages into the computer lab.

Rather sheepishly, she even admits to being one of the culprits.

Yoha’s team was one of 17 that competed in the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Engineering Senior Design Competition on May 17. Her team, competing in the computer science and engineering division, created a video monitoring system for the computer science labs in the Lawrence Street Center.

Already this semester, the systems administrator for the two labs has benefited from the team’s surveillance and monitoring software. “We had finals in there on Saturday,” Yoha said of the labs. “He was very anxious on Monday morning to go check the video and see who all, me included, had a drink in the lab.”

Food and drinks are a lab no-no because of the damage they pose to the equipment. The collaborative work by Yoha, Min Nguyen and Alexander Nguyen won the Computer Science and Engineering Department prize of $250.

Students spend a year working on projects for their Senior Design course, a capstone to their undergraduate studies. In the annual design competition, a panel of industry judges inspect each project and ask questions of each team of students. The judges select the best overall project ($1,000) and a top project from each discipline ($250).

This year’s overall winner was Overall: TheraGO ( The mechanical engineering team created a motor-assisted therapeutic tricycle that promotes cognitive and muscular development in children with special needs.

Departmental winners were:

Several mechanical engineering teams built cars, including the hydrogen-powered H2 Eco Challenger that recently won first place (hydrogen category) in the 2013 Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition. Brandon Mang, of the CU Later Racing team, which designed a one-third scale formula race car to compete against other schools internationally, said the car builders all benefited from the new 5th Street Hub, a garage workspace that opened on campus this semester.

They also benefited from the collaborative exercise posed by the Senior Design Competition. “The big thing for us was being able to get together with 12 members — one of the larger teams in the competition,” Mang said. “Everybody worked together, everybody got heard and everybody’s ideas were listened to and discussed. … I think more than any of the other teams we did get a lot of that team-building experience.”

Marc Ingber, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said Senior Design serves as the culmination of the students’ undergraduate experience. “It allows them to synthesize all the knowledge and concepts they’ve learned over three years,” he said. “Then they build something, test it and see what works and what doesn’t work.”

As usual, the students were treated to chats with Don White, a CU Denver alumnus whose donation makes the competition possible every year. White earned his electrical engineering degree in 1965, making him one of the first graduates of that department.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the students to get their education headed toward the practical part of it,” said White, who operated an electrical contracting company in Denver. “The students have so much fun doing this.”

(Photo at top: Standing next to their project on remote systems surveillance and monitoring, which won a departmental award in the Engineering Senior Design Competition, are, from left, Min Nguyen, Alexander Nguyen and Diane Yoha.)

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