Engineering group aids student research equipment, invites fresh members


Gannon University students interested in engineering and hands-on learning are invited to participate in GUbotDev.  The group started last winter and specializes in airborne automations and remote planes.

Mark Blair, an instructor of computer and information science, said the point of the program is to provide research opportunities for Gannon students.

Blair said its one thing to have a theoretic idea of studying something.

“But it’s another to apply it in the real world and put it to use,” he said.  “That’s what these students are doing.”

Blair said the group started as mostly CIS students but has expanded to include mechanical engineering and general science students, as well as some female members.

“We are pretty much a self-organizing, self-motivated group,” Blair said.  “Anyone can come, but the people who stick around are the special ones.

“They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t want to be, and they only work on projects they have interest in.”

GUbotDev meets each Friday at 3 p.m. in Room 343 of the Zurn Science Center.  Interested students are invited to attend meetings as they wish.

Nick Devine, a sophomore electrical engineering major and one of the lead design engineers in GUbotDev, said some of the projects they do involve learning about and creating autonomous robots and data collection platforms.

Devine said the group builds and attaches a multitude of sensors such as ultrasonic sensors, infrared sensors, barometers, accelerometers and pollutant detectors onto these platforms.

He said some of the club’s current projects involve 3-D image mapping, air quality sensing and super-efficient aerial vehicles.

Devine said that the current developments include building an octo-copter.

It is an eight-bladed remote controlled drone that will have different types of image mapping and video recording devices attached.  Devine, who is also in charge of the group’s 3-D printing, said this drone is made using 3-D printed parts and readily available store-bought supplies.

Another new project is a sensor network that will discretely collect air quality samples and send them back for analysis. Devine added that the group designed the sensors especially to operate on solar power and wirelessly send data.

“The goal for this project is to be able to place these sensors all around Erie to map areas of pollutants and track how they move across the city,” Devine said.

Blair said that the air filter project is also a result of the collaboration GUbotDev has with the environmental engineering science students. The students requested the technology and the group made it happen.

Another side of the project is the group’s desire for new grants such as Ignite Erie, a new grant program the group is hoping to apply to.

“We want to have connections and technology when that money becomes available,” Blair said.  “[Part of that] is also having the projects ready.”

Blair said that the environment of the club yields the research technology that the university needs and experience for the members.

“The best part is seeing [the students] make amazing stuff that they choose to do,” Blair said.

Devine said he enjoys it as well.

“My favorite part of the group is learning about electronics in a hands-on manner and being able to challenge myself to create and complete the projects on hand,” Devine said.



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