Science & Technology

UWF engineering students place second in international design competition

A team of UWF engineering students brought home the second-place award in the IEEE IAS Myron Zucker Student Design Contest, an international competition judged by the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Industry Applications Society.

UWF Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty nominates students for the prestigious competition. In 2014, one such project was the “Design of an Electronic Apiary Unit,” by Kaitlyn Latourelle and Nicole Latourelle (winners of the Outstanding Student Award) and Dylan Radcliffe.

The team tackled the beekeeping project because of connections in the field, who informed them of problems in the traditional beehive.

Dr. Mohamed Khabou, ECE associate professor and department chair, met biweekly with the team to help them define the specifications of the project, discuss technical solutions, monitor the proposed budget and ensure constant communication with the Escambia County Bee Keepers Association.

“Bees are disappearing around the world and a major cause of these disappearances is weak apiary units,” Radcliffe said. “This central idea, determined early in our research, is what the project evolved from. Four primary improvements to the standard apiary unit were focused upon, each of which was modular and is able to be added onto the standard apiary unit.”

Improvements included predator elimination, climate assistance, production monitoring and power regeneration. All data collected was provided daily to the beekeeper to track any major fluctuations in the hive.

The University is grateful to the Escambia County Bee Keepers Association for helping define the problems for the team, approving proposed solutions, assisting with the testing of the finished project and aiding in its potential commercialization.

The trio of successful scholars said the competition was an incredible learning experience, as they learned how to apply their electrical and computer engineering degrees towards designing and building an actual project, rather than theoretically on paper.

“School might teach you what you need to know to start in your career, but until you sit down and apply all you’ve learned, you don’t realize how little you actually know,” the team said. “Life is all about learning, and one should never stop striving to learn something new.”

Khabou said participation in student competitions is very important to the University.

“It helps students gauge their competency against students from other colleges, gives them an opportunity to discover the latest technologies in the field, and helps them get in touch with potential employers who usually send recruiting agents or scouts to such competitions,” he stated.

All members of the successful team found employment upon graduation. Dylan is working at CTS-America as a Software Engineer. Nicole works for Georgia Pacific as an Electrical Engineer Project Manager. Kaitlyn is employed by Southern Nuclear Operating Company at Plant Farley Nuclear Plant as an Electrical Engineer.