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ECE students earn top honors at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum

Grant Yang, an undergraduate student in electrical and computer engineering tied for first place in the engineering category at the 2013 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. ECE undergraduate students Ruochen Yang earned a second place award, and Tai Cheng and Forrest Obnamia both earned third place awards.

Grant Yang’s research project, “Calculating Susceptibility from Local Field Inhomogeneities for Applications in Multiple Sclerosis Studies,” has applications for multiple sclerosis research. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease in which myelin in the central nervous system is destroyed resulting in the formation of lesions. The pattern of iron deposition within MS lesions has been thought to indicate specific processes in MS pathology. A method of visualizing and quantifying iron in MS lesions would provide additional insight into the inflammatory process in multiple sclerosis, and assist in assessing the effectiveness of current medications. A method of calculating changes in iron concentration was developed and verified. The algorithm computes the shift in magnetic susceptibility caused by changes in iron concentration from ultra-high field MRI phase images. The algorithm was calibrated and verified, and will be applicable to several longitudinal studies of the effectiveness of several drugs for the treatment of MS. Yang is advised by Bradley Clymer, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Petra Schmalbrock, associate professor of imaging science.

Ruochen Yang received second place for “Complex Behavior from a Simple Rule Demonstration: Using a Lego Mindstorms NXT Kit.” The Lego Mindstorms NXT robot is a sophisticated device that includes a programmable and embedded computer. Yang was able to demonstrate how a complex behavior can be simulated from a few simple rules that represent the operation of neurons. After investigating the capability and limitation of critical sensor and motor specifications, she mimicked a female cricket’s behavior of locating her mate in dark with sound signals using two sound sensors and two motors. Subsequently, the echo location process of a bat using echoic flow theory has been studied for collision avoidance. Preliminary results have had successful and constant performance and show the potential of using Echoic Flow for steering control on vehicles. Overall, this approach offers a cheap and simple alternative to test and evaluate simple cognitive sensing or intelligent control ideas before large scale or real-life testing. Yang is advised by Chris Baker, Ohio Research Scholar in Integrated Sensor Systems and professor, electrical and computer engineering; and Graeme Smith, senior research associate, electrical and computer engineering.

Tai Cheng earned third place for “Synthesis and Transfer Methods of Monolayer Graphene.” This project’s goal is to successfully synthesize continuous graphene sheets through an industry scalable process of chemical vapor deposition (CVD), to transfer the graphene from its copper seed substrate to appropriate solar cell substrates, and to measure the sheet resistance and optical transmission of the transferred graphene. Graphene has multiple benefits over currently used materials, specifically its electrical and optical properties, and comparatively low cost synthesis. Graphene is highly conductive, 98% transparent to sunlight and synthesized from plentiful renewable resources. Thus, graphene could be the material of choice for future use in semiconductor microelectronics and photovoltaic cells. Challenges to industrial production are robust synthesis and its transfer using scalable, affordable processes. Thus far the team has developed a successful protocol for synthesizing graphene and have moved onto creating large-area continuous films and researching transfer techniques. This research builds upon work done by Amritesh Rai (’12, electrical and computer engineering), Ken Clive (’12, electrical and computer engineering) and Katurah Hansen (’12, electrical and computer engineering), who received third place in the engineering category of the 2012 Denman for their research project. Cheng’s poster was co-authored with Andrew Koch (’12, electrical and computer engineering) and Joydeep Ganguly, a student at New Albany High School. Cheng is advised by Paul Berger, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Forrest Obnamia earned third place for “Real-Time Hardware Implementation of Telephone Speech Enhancement Algorithm.” This project seeks to alleviate the frustration and inefficient communication hard of hearing listeners experience when communicating via telephone. The Telephone Speech Enhancement Algorithm (TSEA), developed at The Ohio State University, has been created to improve telephone signals so that speech can be heard more intelligibly by hard of hearing listeners. Preliminary software tests have proven the algorithm to be effective, but a hardware implementation of TSEA has yet to be designed. In this project, the BeagleBoard-xM development board is used to run TSEA. This hardware model implements TSEA but introduces noise into the system due to its analog nature. The model accepts analog audio signals, processes them using TSEA, and outputs the processed signal for transmission. A device such as this has the potential to improve communication in scenarios such as telemedicine clinics where a failure to communicate properly with their hard of hearing customers could have potentially devastating consequences. Obnamia is advised by Ashok Krishnamurthy, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering.

The Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, which has grown from 50 participating undergraduate researchers in 1996 to more than 700 in 2013, showcases outstanding student research and encourages all undergraduates to participate in research as a value-added element of their education. The Denman Forum is a cooperative effort of The Ohio State University's Honors & Scholars Center, Undergraduate Research Office, and Office of Research. Visit the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum website for more information.