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Shahab Tran, George Kyrtsakas and Sheldon Tracey pose with solar panel array.Students Shahab Tran, George Kyrtsakas and Sheldon Tracey show off their fourth-year capstone design project: a wireless monitoring system for solar panels.

Team projects cap engineering student careers

Automation and communication were the order of the day Monday, as fourth-year students of electrical and computer engineering presented their capstone projects in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Among the projects were a device that can open or close a garage door from across the globe, a smart door that can respond to the presence of visitors, and a wireless monitoring system for solar panels.

The last could prove a boon to green energy production, say team members George Kyrtsakas, Sheldon Tracey and Shahab Tran. Their system reads data from individual panels and sends daily notification on the results, alerting management to any deficiencies.

“The advantage of our system is that it can determine which unit is underperforming,” says Kyrtsakas. “That allows the technician to identify the problem more efficiently.”

Their prototype draws operating power from the solar array and communicates wirelessly through e-mail as well as a graphing function updated at 15-minute intervals. According to Tracey, there remains room for improvement and the group will hand off the project to a new team next year.

“The difference with the capstone project is that we really applied our learning to a real-world situation,” he says. “There are so many different ways to approach the challenge, and live testing is the only way to find out what problems will arise.”

Graduating students in other engineering disciplines will present their capstone projects on Friday, August 1. Room 1100, Centre for Engineering Innovation, will host students in the mechanical, automotive and materials programs from 8:40 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students in civil and environmental engineering will present across the hall in room 1102 starting at 9 a.m.

See a full list of Friday’s presentations.