OPEN HOUSE: May 3, 2005

This year marked the debut of the annual Engineering Design Project Open House in the new Centre for Computing and Engineering. The wide, sunlit corridors provided unobstructed pathways and a more inviting venue when compared to the dimly lit corridors in the basement of Eric Palin Hall, the former home of the Department.

The Open House reception desk was setup outside the 3rd floor elevators.

This year marked the debut of the annual Engineering Design Project Open House in the new Centre for Computing and Engineering. The wide, sunlit corridors provided unobstructed pathways and a more inviting venue when compared to the dimly lit corridors in the basement of Eric Palin Hall, the former home of the Department.

Eight labs on the 3rd floor of the CCE showcased 80 student design projects in various categories including communications, digital signal processing, microprocessor interfacing & instrumentation, networking, power electronics, remote sensing & robotics and software engineering. A 40 inch plasma screen displaying a multi-media presentation about the Department greeted visitors at the elevator along with various brochures and FEAS annual reports.


Before we get to the photographs, let's take a brief look behind the scenes on how the Administrative and Engineering Support Staff in the Department prepared for the 2005 Open House.

Three Phases

The preparation has 3 phases:

  1. Equipment request by the students;
  2. Lab-bench assignments based on the requests;
  3. Lab-bench setup and sign hanging.

Students Request Equipment

Phase 1 began in March when Jim Koch, the Open House Co-ordinator, emailed all the participating students asking them to fill-in the Open House Equipment Request Form. This online form allowed students to request electronic equipment like oscilloscopes, meters, power-supplies and computers, they would need to demonstrate their project. Based on results of the past submissions, the form is modified and improved every year by Jim Koch and Luis Fernandes, a Support Engineer who deals with the programming of the form.

Each form-submission generates two email messages. Yvonne Cordwell, a Departmental Assistant, receives one email with information she will use to create the poster that is mounted over each bench; the information includes the project title, the student's names and the supervisor's names, their food choices, etc. The second email, formatted as an equipment check-list, is sent to Jim Koch who checks each request and follows-up with further emails, asking for clarification.

Projects are Assigned a Bench

An additional lab had to be wired for network connectivity due to the increased number of network-oriented projects. V. Luong, J. Naughton, N. Malhotra, T. Phan and Jim Koch pull cable in ENG 303.

Phase 2 begins once all the forms have been received. Jim Koch has to decide project placement based on the equipment requests. To minimize the amount of equipment that is moved around, each request has to be analyzed and a decision has to be made as to which of the eight labs, the project is to be placed in. For example, power-related projects are automatically placed the in the power labs; projects requiring networked access, will be placed in labs that have Internet connectivity, and so on.

Sometimes there are more projects in a particular category than there are lab stations and so these demands have to be accomodated. This year, a larger than usual group of power-related projects meant that large and heavy motor-generator sets had to be moved and set-up in other labs as the three power labs could not accommodate all the projects.

Once each project is assigned a bench and the equipment requirements are clarified, Jim Koch prints the email check-list (which was sent in phase 1) and tapes a copy to each assigned bench and as equipment is delivered to the bench during phase 3, it is checked-off.

Setting Up the Labs

Phase 3 is the most labour intensive. It takes an entire day for Support Engineers Vincent Luong, Tu Phan, Jim Koch and Nipin Malhotra, working together, to set-up one lab— moving the lab benches to re-configure the classroom layout to manage visitor traffic flow, hanging the project signs at each bench and placing equipment which sometimes has to be unlocked from one lab, moved and re-locked at the new location.

Students who have not completed their projects or wish to improve their final project grade, are permitted to continue working on their projects until Open House. Since some of the projects require equipment that is available exclusively in the labs, having students working in the labs during setup is just another obstacle the Engineering Support Staff have to work around. This year, the lab set-up phase began more than one week before Open House.

The day before Open House, each bench is double-checked to ensure that all the equipment requests, including any last minute changes, are filled.

Hanging The Signs

The signs which are hung above each lab bench are made of a 2' x 4' white foam-board panel; the title-card, made by Yvonne Cordwell, is glued to the top-half, while a block-diagram supplied by the students is taped to the bottom-half. The labs in Eric Palin Hall lacked ceiling tiles so the signs could be easily tied to the T-bar supports; the ceiling-tiles in the CCE labs, however, posed a problem that required a clever solution.

Jim Koch devised an ingenious solution to hang the signs: he attached
miniature paper-clamps to the ceiling T-bars and hung the signs
by looping the wire through the clip-handles and attached it to the sign.


The following selection of photos provide an overall impression of the atmosphere during the 2005 Open House.

T. Ghorab and S. Karim discuss methods to reduce harmonics on AC induction motors with G. Leask and M. Derewonko.  
M. Al-Shawaf demonstrates DSP based field-oriented control of induction motors.

On the left, J. Ma and P. Siv demonstrate PIC/DSP based motor control in the Power Lab.  
C. Gardner demonstrates 3-phase multi-level inverters to V. Luong and X. Zhang in ENG 308.

J. Naughton and S. Boctor observe a demonstration while in the background, M. Zukhov averts a train collision.  
B. Stimson and D. Barrese make adjustments to the wireless link while M. Kassam discusses the free-space optical link.

E. Law and S. Krishnan listen intently to a guest's comments.  
L. Samaroo looks on as M. Zeytinoglu talks to R. Sidhu about their power-grid monitoring and control system.

A. Tang and C. Prosper demonstrate their robot to visitors.  
Load-management in a content distribution network is demonstrated by H. Siddiqui.

D. Karimi, a 2004 alumnus, chats with M. Mack at the reception desk.  
M. Kassam, M. Zeytinoglu and S. Krishnan have an impromptu conference.

The Fourth Phase

There are, in fact, four phases to Open House. The last phase happens after Open House is over— all the labs have to be reconfigured to the original layouts, ready for the Transition Program courses that begin a few days later. All the equipment has to be returned to the original lab-stations and the signs have to be taken down and put in storage until the following year.

Photos and commentary: Luis Fernandes