PSU shines at prestigious engineering competition
Author: Julie Rutherford, Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science
Posted: May 7, 2014

A team of four electrical and computer engineering students from Portland State University took second place in theCornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, a prestigious national engineering and design competition held last weekend at Walt Disney World in Florida. A total of 33 finalist teams competed in the Cornell Cup, many from top national engineering schools.

The Cornell Cup is a college-level competition that challenges students to design and construct innovative applications of embedded technology and computer systems built for specific tasks. For their winning project, PSU undergraduates Nikolas Davis, Matthew Stehr, Tuan Hoang, Cuc Duong developed "SAFE (Situational Awareness Fault‐Finder Extension)," an intelligent device to help bicyclists and motorcyclists avoid hazards on the road by detecting oncoming threats such as distracted or erratic drivers.

"For the last year or two, PSU's electrical and computer engineering department has worked hard to encourage and reward creativity with tools like the Electronics Prototyping Lab and the Innovation Grant. I think this environment has really encouraged independent development," said team member, Nikolas Davis. "I've had many great mentors throughout: Doug Hall, Donald Duncan, Mark Faust, and Andrew Greenberg come to mind -- and those are just a few of the professors I've had a chance to work in the Computer Engineering emphasis. You can tell they really care about education and student success."

PSU's electrical and computer engineering department has invested a renewed effort to build a culture of inquiry and project-based learning throughout the undergraduate curriculum.  It also offers many opportunities for rich extra-curricular project experiences such as the Portland State Aeronautical Society, robotics, and building the University's first all-electric SAE Formula race car.

"I think Department Chair James McNames has done a great job of emphasizing creativity," continued Davis. "I'd like to see this trend continue, especially when it comes to working in an interdisciplinary way with other Engineering programs within PSU."

PSU's other team designed "Fitness Self-Assessment Tool (FSAT)," a device that assesses and identifies a client's physical weaknesses and recommends appropriate exercises. Team members include Truong Pham, Tuan Nguyen, Phuc Nguyen, Thanh Nguyen, and Thuy Tran, also electrical and computer engineering students.

Seven of the nine students on the PSU teams are members of Intel Vietnam Scholars, a program for which very high-achieving students were provided with two-year scholarships, sponsored by Intel, to study engineering or supply and logistics management at PSU. The final of three Intel Vietnam Scholar cohorts, including students on the PSU Cornell Cup teams, will graduate this June.

This is the second time in three years that PSU has placed in the top two spots at the Cornell Cup. It is also the first time PSU has sent two teams to the finals. PSU won the inaugural Cornell Cup USA for their design of a prescription drug identification device in 2012.