Projects are the hallmark of DigiPen's BS in Computer Engineering degree. Each year, students in this program work on projects where they design, develop, prototype, and test their own hardware and software systems. These projects complement rigorous coursework in computer science, engineering, programming, mathematics, and physics. Below, you'll find concrete examples of Computer Engineering students' creativity and ingenuity as they set out to find technological solutions to emerging engineering problems.


Project: Autonomous Robotic Car

Participants: All first-year Computer Engineering students.

Challenge: Build a robotic car that can navigate a unique obstacle course in the shortest amount of time without any human input.

Primary components: PIC Microcontroller, servo motors, infrared sensors.

In CS 100, students build a robotic car that can find the most efficient path through an obstacle course. Students have no prior knowledge of the layout of this course, so they must design their car to "read" the course on the fly. To achieve this, students program the car's microcontroller to receive data from a series of infrared sensors, interpret that data into a mathematical representation of the car's environment, and deliver instructions to a pair of servo motors that steer the car away from obstacles all in real time. This project is a test of students' ability to develop streamlined operating systems the more efficiently their car can receive, process, and transmit data, the more quickly it will make it through the course.


Project: S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. (2010)

Second Year Project

Participants: Wylder Keane, Brian Tugade, Kevin Secretan, Isaac Diaz,  Raymond Diaz.

Challenge: Design and build a robot that imitates the movement patterns of a biological creature.

Primary components: PIC Microcontroller, programmable logic devices (PLDs), servo motors.

S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. stands for "Servo-Controlled Octopedal Robotic Predator Imitating Organic Nature." This robot mimics its namesake creature's unique style of locomotion through a series of PLDs that receive input from the robot's microcontroller. A special circuit reads the position of each of the robot's eight legs, then processes that data into a set of instructions that moves each leg into one of six servo positions. As a result, all eight legs are synchronized to move in a manner uncannily similar to an actual scorpion.


Project: Mapper (2011)

Second Year Project

Participants: Cassandra Chow, Matt Kaes, Kellen McKinney, Adelheid Stark, Daniel White.

Challenge: Build an autonomous rover that orients itself against a grid of reflective tape on the ground, then performs path-finding tasks to reach other locations within the grid.

Primary components: PIC Microcontroller, optical/infrared sensors, servo motors, XBee wireless modules, reflective tape.

Mapper builds on the concepts covered in CS 100 by adding a grid-based navigation system. Bottom-facing sensors detect the location of the reflective tape below the vehicle, which is sent to a microcontroller and translated into instructions that maintain the rover's alignment to the grid. Meanwhile, side-mounted infrared sensors warn the rover of nearby obstacles that it must navigate around. Mapper can also be operated remotely by sending instructions from a PC to the rover's XBee wireless modules.


Project: Tread (2012)

Second Year Project

Participants: Johnny Sim, Cody Harris.

Challenge: Create a turret-bearing autonomous rover that can target heat-intensive objects and fire a foam missile at them.

Primary components: PIC Microcontroller, temperature sensor, servo-controlled turret.

Tread takes the "autonomous robotic car" concept in a slightly more aggressive direction. A single sensor takes a snapshot of the variation in temperature in an arc in front of the device. This data is sent to the microcontroller, which locates the area of highest temperature and instructs the turret to aim and fire the missile there. If an object passes too close to Tread for the temperature sensor to read its heat signature, short-range infrared sensors can also trigger the missile. Finally, Tread, like Mapper, can be operated remotely via PC through its onboard XBee wireless modules.


Project: Robotic Tour Guide (2013)

Second Year Project

Participants: Tyler McGrew, Parker Olive, Emily Gangsei, Louis Coyle.

Challenge: Create a robot that can learn paths and lead humans on tours of those paths.

Primary components: XBee controller, motor with encoder, infrared sensor, oscillator, 7.2 volt battery.

The robot tour guide is a teachable device that can learn how to navigate a series of paths by encoding the input data from an XBee remote controller. In path-learning mode, which the robot navigates via remote control, the robot records the user's navigation commands and stores that information as a path (relative to a set starting position). In the autonomous tour-guiding mode, the user selects a stored path from a software interface and then follows the robot as it travels to the specified destination. The robot is also equipped with an infrared sensor to detect and avoid obstacles.


Project: Real-Time Microwave Radar (2013)

Third Year Project

Participant: Kevin Secretan.

Challenge: Design and build a low-cost sensor that can detect movement through walls and display these observations in real time.

Primary components: Laptop computer, voltage-controlled oscillator, power amplifiers, coffee cans.

This device builds on an existing project made on OpenCourseWare. It adds real-time monitoring capabilities to a microwave radar that can detect movement and positioning data through walls and other solid obstacles. Like all radars, it works by transmitting a microwave signal through one antenna, which is reflected against the object(s) being measured and back into a second antenna that receives the signal. From there, a program coded in Python measures the differences between the transmitted and reflected signals, then calculates the distance of the object as well as the speed at which the object is moving in relation to the antennae.


Project: F.C.P.I.P. (2014)

Second Year Project

Participant: Tyler McGrew.

Challenge: Create a minimalistic 2-Player game using classic Atari controllers connected to an Altera DE2 development and education board.

Primary components: Atari 2600 gaming controllers, Altera DE2 board.

F.C.P.I.P. stands for FPGA (field-programmable gate array) Controller and Platformer Implementation Project. This game and hardware project uses two Atari joystick controllers, which connect to an Altera DE2 board using a custom-made adapter. Players must guide a small square to the top of the screen by jumping between different platforms. Game logic was programmed using the Verilog hardware description language, and the visual display is made possible using a video graphics array (VGA) at a resolution of 640x480 pixels.


Project: Four-Legged Friend (2014)

Second Year Project

Participants: Jimi Huard, Jason Dempsey.

Challenge: Design and prototype a quadruped robotic device that can act as a first responder to people in emergencies.

Primary components: Mbed microcontroller, symetric body kit, servo motors, aluminum legs, 7.4V high-capacity batter, 9V battery, XBee controller.

The Four-Legged Friend (FLF) is a first-aid supply platform and general first-responder tool for providing relief to people in emergency or hazard situations. With the help of two metal feelers, the FLF can autonomously detect and circumvent obstacles. An Mbed microcontroller acts as the brain of the robotic device, responsible for detecting and reacting to obstacles and communicating with all other systems, such as the servo motor controller. The FLF also comes equipped with an Xbee wireless controller that can override the robot's default autonomous mode.


Project: Handheld Gaming Console (2012)

Fourth Year Project

Participants: Nicholas Rivera, Clifford Garvis, Wylder Keane.

Challenge: Design and build a handheld gaming console using commercially available parts.

Primary components: BeagleBoard computer, microcontroller, accelerometer, gyroscope, touch screen, liquid crystal disply (LCD), game pad parts (thumbsticks, buttons, and triggers).

The "brain" of this device is the BeagleBoard, an open-source single-board computer that provides the primary processing power, memory, and audio/video capabilities. A microcontroller collects data from the console's various inputs and transmits it to the BeagleBoard for processing. Finally, a seven-inch LCD provides visual feedback. The resulting device has everything it needs to successfully play both traditional gamepad-controlled and touch-enabled games.


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