Ideas for more advanced electrical projects

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by steve135, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. steve135

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 29, 2015
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    Hello Everyone,
    I am currently and electrical engineering student with just over a year left of my education, and unfortunately only two years of any type of exposure to electronics in general. I wanted to ask for opinions on types or basic examples of projects that might be considered impressive for an undergraduate? I want to build my experience through projects, a recent decision which has lead to far more learning than in the classroom setting. Sadly my most advanced project was a small embedded system to control shifting of a motorcycle engine using an electric solenoid, designed a discrete gate driver.
    I hope this post was appropriate,
    Thanks, Steve
     
  2. marioo1182

    New Member

    Apr 20, 2015
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    Are you also familiar with digital systems? Such as a digital 24-hour clock?
    I'm assuming that would be no problem for you.
     
  3. steve135

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 29, 2015
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    You don't necessarily have to give an example of what you think I might be capable of, even if you think it's beyond me knowing what level of a project would convince a possible employer that I'm at the top as far as project experience goes.
     
  4. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
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    How about robotics, or controlling a quad-copter mission?
     
  5. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    To impress a potential employer, an idea that comes from you might work best, obviously not something you can get from any discount store, but something you can think of a use for that doesn't already exist.

    Most of my projects evolve that way - I think of something I want to do, and figure out how to do it.

    While you're pondering that one, you can look around at things that do exist - but aren't brilliant. Figure out how/why they're not doing it right, then start work on your own version that does the job better.

    The second example is less impressive - anyone can find fault with other peoples work. But the thought processes are still good exercise.
     
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  6. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Go talk to the researchers at your university (particularly in physics and chemistry, but don't stop there) and ask them what kinds of things they would like to have in the lab but that are too expensive or too low priority. Often times you can find one of those that is reasonable for a student to design and implement, either as a lab assistant or as a senior design project. Of course, doing it on your own time is an alternative and they will usually at least pay for the parts. I remember one of my fellow physics students designed and implemented an imaging system for an Auger spectroscopy system by taking the Auger signal and syncing that to drive the Z-channel of an oscilloscope. This allowed the researcher to precisely align the sample to the system beam. You might look at the labs that your school has for undergraduate education (controls lab, electronics lab, fluids lab, you name it) and think about what kinds of instrumentation might be useful in making those labs better and then go talk to the people responsible for those labs and see if you can work something out.
     
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  7. steve135

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 29, 2015
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    Well I'm working on a programmable buck controller now, a controller for a re-flow oven (made from a toaster oven), and I will be making a power distribution module that will have programmable current "fusing" and communicate data on a CAN network. For most employers I feel this is enough but lets say I want to work in the space industry, I fear that's not adequate when they specifically say they are looking for the top 5%. Your opinion?
     
  8. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Sounds like you are well on your way.

    But if you want to work in the space industry, start calling companies in the space industry and get their thoughts on what you should do. Things might have changed, but I was always surprised how easy it was to call up the switch board of a large company and, within a three to six transfers be talking to a project lead or other senior engineer and at how receptive they were to talk to students that showed the initiative to call them. I remember calling McDonnell Douglas because I wanted to get some basic information on the bootstrap turbine used in the F-15 air conditioning system for my Thermodynamics class and on the third transfer I was talking to the System Manager for the F-15 Environmental Control Systems who talked to me for over an hour and then sent me the blue prints and a couple technical papers for the entire air conditioning system on the aircraft.

    It's quite possible that such a call might end up in you working on a small project for them. Companies are always looking for ways to try out ideas without throwing a lot of resources at them and one way they do that is to have students (usually through a university) work on a project that is merely aimed at seeing is something looks like it might be worth putting more effort into exploring further. They don't really care if the work produces results, but they definitely look at how well the work was done and often hire those that impress them in that regard.
     
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  9. steve135

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 29, 2015
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    I feel it may be different now, definitely intimidating to do that, for me at least. But that is a really awesome experience, good job! Well I'll work on the above mentioned projects for now and perhaps some more complicated ones after that. I'm still at the point where I have to look up most circuits, and than modify and combine them to do what I want. Thanks!
     
  10. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    No reason why it should be intimidating. What is the worst that can happen? You waste some time and don't get to talk to anyone useful or, if you do, they blow you off. Big deal. You'll learn a little bit, even it if it's about how not to approach them. You're going to get a lot of rejection -- take each one as an opportunity to learn. I remember I walked into Motorola in a suit and tie and was trying to talk to someone about job opportunities. I couldn't get past the receptionist, who politely took my resume and said that they would be in touch. The Bite Me letter beat me home! I was down in Phoenix on vacation, which is what gave me the opportunity to go there in person, which I thought would be a plus. It wasn't and their rejection letter was sent out so fast that it actually got to my apartment and was waiting for me when I returned home. So I learned that walking in the front door of a large company looking for a job is not a very promising way to go about it.
     
  11. steve135

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 29, 2015
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    You are correct, it shouldn't be. However for me it is, working on this problem.
     
  12. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    Building a power supply is awesome if you want to work in the power supply field, otherwise most engineers just buy a module to do that.

    Otherwise I doubt one can fake being in the top 5% of anything.
     
  13. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    As long as you know about your problems and are working on them, not much else can be asked. Good luck.
     
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  14. ian field

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 27, 2012
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    Elektor magazine published a pizza oven reflow unit a few years ago and supplied kits for it too.
     
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