Course Overview

Welcome to ECE 445/ME470 Senior Design ZJUI Spring 2022!

Welcome to the class! If you've looked at the course Calendar, you've probably already noticed that this class is quite different from most other classes in the department. The class only meets as a whole for the first four weeks of the semester. During these lectures you will meet the Course Staff, learn about specific requirements, resources, and project choices for the course, and have a chance to meet other students. These are some of the most important weeks for the class since the decisions you make during this time will determine what you'll get out of this class and, in many ways, how much you'll enjoy it.

In this course, you will form teams and propose projects that solve an engineering problem in a unique way. The projects generally involve a device that you will design, build, and demonstrate. We are excited to see what projects you create with this semester! In the midst of an ever changing learning environment, we want to encourage you to think, create, design, and build exemplary projects. We want to ensure that your experience in 445 demonstrates your potential as an engineer graduating from the University of Illinois.

This course is taught hybridly for ME and ECE students, and some projects are mentored by ZJUI faculty. Here are a few items that you will need to consider as we enter into this semester.

Wireless IntraNetwork

Featured Project

There is a drastic lack of networking infrastructure in unstable or remote areas, where businesses don’t think they can reliably recoup the large initial cost of construction. Our goal is to bring the internet to these areas. We will use a network of extremely affordable (<$20, made possible by IoT technology) solar-powered nodes that communicate via Wi-Fi with one another and personal devices, donated through organizations such as OLPC, creating an intranet. Each node covers an area approximately 600-800ft in every direction with 4MB/s access and 16GB of cached data, saving valuable bandwidth. Internal communication applications will be provided, minimizing expensive and slow global internet connections. Several solutions exist, but all have failed due to costs of over $200/node or the lack of networking capability.

To connect to the internet at large, a more powerful “server” may be added. This server hooks into the network like other nodes, but contains a cellular connection to connect to the global internet. Any device on the network will be able to access the web via the server’s connection, effectively spreading the cost of a single cellular data plan (which is too expensive for individuals in rural areas). The server also contains a continually-updated several-terabyte cache of educational data and programs, such as Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg. This data gives students and educators high-speed access to resources. Working in harmony, these two components foster economic growth and education, while significantly reducing the costs of adding future infrastructure.