For me, one of the best parts of working for NI is hearing how educators are helping their students apply taught concepts to developing the technology of the future. I see this the clearest in student projects, where the sheer imagination involved in what are often altruistic projects, is awe inspiring. Each year, we see ambitious students use their final-year design projects to gain credit for their degrees, improve society, and show us why they chose engineering.
To help bring this incredible work to the global engineering community, NI recognises the phenomenal efforts of students and their academic sponsors by hosting the annual European Student Design Competition, where students from across the continent show us how they will be the next great innovators.
Join us as we take a short tour of this year’s top 10 European student projects. Prepare to be inspired. In no particular order:
Naeah: 4WD Electrically Assisted Handcycle
University of Southampton
Technology Used: CompactRIO and LabVIEW
Exploring the wilderness is one of life’s great joys, but it’s not something that is generally open to people with impaired mobility. These heroic students have built a pair of solar-powered, electrically assistive handcycles that will give two multiple amputees the ability to take on the 4,500 m ascent of Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia, whilst raising awareness and funding to establish wheelchair manufacturing in Ethiopia.
Technology Used: Single-Board RIO, LabVIEW, and DIAdem
Motorcycles are a fantastic mode of transport in urban environments. But, because of energy storage issues that limit range, the electric motorbike hasn’t taken off like the electric car. These students hope to change that with their futuristic bike. Boasting a range of 250 km, the ethec bike could well be seen in cities across the world.
#SavetheBees: Remotely Monitoring Beehive Weight to Colony Health
University of Manchester
Technology Used: LabVIEW and myRIO
If left unchecked, the steady decline of bee colonies in Europe and the United States will have a catastrophic impact on our environment, ecosystem, and food supply. But, if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it! This innovative young engineer has developed an Internet of Things (IoT) beehive monitoring system. Built using LabVIEW and myRIO, the system allows scientists to remotely monitor colony health and daily bee behaviour (beehaviour?).
Project ARC: Conquering the Swiss Alps With Autonomous Electric Race Car
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH, Zürich
Technology Used: CompactRIO and LabVIEW
Using stereo-camera localization, the ARC team built an autonomous car to navigate the beautiful, but treacherous, Klausen Pass in the Swiss Alps. Controlled by CompactRIO, the car self-navigates and stops for obstacles. The team wants to increase the public enthusiasm for autonomous driving and show its feasibility.
Technology Used: myRIO, LabVIEW, and Vision Assistant
These compassionate students, inspired by the tragic story of a missing teenager in their local town, created this autonomous robot to aid search-and-rescue missions in water. The agile robot systematically manoeuvres around a defined area of water and uses sonar and matching algorithms to find items of interest, helping reduce the excruciating waiting time for friends and family anxious for news.
Noughts and Crosses: The Unbeatable Robotic Opponent
Technology Used: LabVIEW, Vision Development Module, and LINX (LabVIEW interface for Arduino)
This enterprising student delivered an engaging, interactive technology demo to inspire future engineers. By bringing together the concepts of machine vision, artificial intelligence, and mechatronic design, she created a robot that can beat any human in a game of tic-tac-toe.
The salinity of the world’s oceans has a powerful impact on the global climate. It’s critical that we fully understand how melting ice is affecting the salinity to predict the impact, but large volumes of data are hard to come by. In steps the ARCAB catamaran, a purpose-built autonomous vehicle that can take measurements far more efficiently, giving scientists unprecedented access to climate change models and predictions.
DTU Roadrunners: Award-Winning Autonomous and Fuel-Efficient Driving
Technical University of Denmark
Technology Used: CompactRIO, Single-Board RIO, and LabVIEW
The illustrious DTU Roadrunners were double-awarded at the 2018 European Shell Ecomarathon. They not only won the event’s first-ever driverless challenge but also set a new track record for fuel efficiency with a staggering 374 km on a single litre of petrol. For context, this car could drive across the USA, coast to coast, from San Diego to Jacksonville on just 10 litres of fuel (2.6 gallons)!
Cardex: Training Technology for Cardiovascular Interventions
Technology Used: CompactRIO, LabVIEW, and Vision Acquisition Software
A huge challenge in training new medical staff on dangerous procedures is how to do this without putting someone’s life at risk. This has led to a huge boom in simulation-based training and these students have made tremendous contributions with Cardex, a system designed to simulate the puncturing of the heart. Complete with emulated ultrasound and x-ray imaging, Cardex lets doctors prepare for these tricky procedures in a safe, controlled environment.
NorthROV: Pioneering Research of the Underside of Icebergs
Technology Used: roboRIO and LabVIEW
The melting of icebergs is an iconic symbol of the fraught status of climate change but measuring an accurate size of these floating giants is tricky because of the harsh, dangerous environment in which they’re found. NorthROV uses cameras to create a 3D model of the underside of an iceberg. Already trialled in the frozen waters off the coast of Greenland, it’s giving scientists access to data to adjust vital climate models.
I’m sure, after seeing their projects, you will agree that these are extraordinary young engineers. Please join me in giving them a huge congratulations for their remarkable work and wishing them luck as they embark on their future careers—they are destined for great things!