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Wireless Energy Contest helps K-12 Engineering Outreach Program

Winner Jeff Hensal stands with contest organizers Breanna Glasgow and Clayton Greenbaum.The ECE-led K-12 Engineering Outreach program racked up the engagement awards at Ohio State University this year, but several undergraduate students were curious: How could they help make it even better?

Electronics Club members at Ohio State partnered up with Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) to host an engineering contest for undergraduate students. The challenge: Build and design the most efficient wireless energy transfer circuit project, using less than $15 in supplies.

In the end, Electronics Club member Jeff Hensal was declared the winner. Coming in second place were students Chad Holl, Collin Stipe and Tyler Nelson. Student John Nijim won Honorable Mention.

Cash prizes were award of $250, $150 and $100 for the first, second and third place teams. Contest winners also have the opportunity to continue their research under an independent study, and/or help integrate their design into the ECE Outreach program.

A bit of background: This past year the K-12 Engineering Outreach volunteers created a new wireless energy transfer project, adding to its roster of basic tech gadgets children and teens can build and become inspired by in the classroom. Watch a video of one student successfully completing her project.

Contest organizers said the goal of the contest was to help improve the wireless project and maximize its performance, while also keeping costs down.

Hensal describes the thought process behind his winning design.

“I made the same basic circuit as the outreach project, but with two important modifications,” Hensal explained. “First, I made the two inducting coils by winding magnetic copper wire around a cylinder that had an inverted piece of electrical tape around its surface. When finished winding, I folded the tape over itself and trimmed off the excess. This introduced stability in the coils and made sure they did not come apart.”

Hensal said he also chose to make the wires wind around a cylinder properly sized so the copper coils were always the same.

“The outreach project had two different shape/size inducting coils, which I believe had an impact on the transmission distance due to resonance. My inductors had the same inductance, which helped them resonate together better and therefore transmit further. The stability factor of the method I used to wind them made sure they would essentially stay the same,” he said.

Hensal’s project also only cost $1.85 to make, using one 1.5V battery, one 2N3904 Transistor, one 1k resistor, one battery holder, about 0.4 meters of very thin copper wire and 0.1 meters of electrical tape.

The winning design entry“I knew this design could be used in future ECE outreach events. It even improved the transmission distance,” Hensal said. “Since I made the various connections of the circuit by simply twisting the wires together by hand, I knew the design could be easily duplicable and children appropriate. It was easy to put together and can be done in less than 45 minutes.”

Contest entries were judged by a panel of ECE faculty, including outreach program director Betty Lise Anderson, professor Steven Bibyk and researchers from Nikola Labs.

For contest details visit: http://go.osu.edu/wirelessenergycontest