College Projects | Olin College of Engineering

Superconducting material

For a Materials Science course, my team made superconducting material. We ordered Yttrium Oxide, Barium Carbonate, and Cupric Oxide powders and performed ceramic processing: calcination, firing, sintering, and oxygen annealing. We successfully demonstrated the effect with liquid nitrogen and levitated a magnet - see the video here.

Persistence-of-vision display

For a Principles of Engineering course my sophomore year, our team designed and implemented a persistence-of-vision effect with LED lights on a fan blade. I wrote a Python simulation that took an input image file and computed which LED lights should be on at what time. I then wrote the microcontroller code from scratch in C to set output pins based on a look-up-table generated by my Python script. A magnet and Hall-effect sensor are used to determine the speed of rotation. Teammates designed the physical layout, designed circuits, and laser-cut parts. see the video here.

Android Car Music

For a Mobile Development course, I thought it would be fun to use a smartphone’s accelerometer and GPS to determine velocity when driving in a car. I wrote an Android app that played different music based on speed, and after some calibration, it worked. It is surprisingly fun to hear tranquil music at a stoplight lurch upwards to a fast techno song going onto the highway.

Game controller

For a Principles of Engineering course my sophomore year, a teammate and I made a circuit / wrote microcontroller code to use a potentiometer as a video game controller. I found a random open source game and altered the code to read from our project over USB. I thought it would be fun to use the rotating potentiometer to rotate your character in the game, and it was - see the video here

FPGA effects pedal

For a Computer Architecture course, our team developed an effects pedal. We wrote the logic in Verilog, using a block of memory as a circular buffer for a delay effect. We created a prototype with a Nexys FPGA board. Pictured: Logan Dethrow demos the project with his bass.

Verilog CPU

For a Computer Architecture course, a teammate and I created a working CPU in Verilog. It is a Harvard architecture processor with an ALU and registers. It implements a MIPS-like instruction set including load word, store word, add, subtract, set less than, xor immediate, no-op, jump, jump register, and branch not equal.


For a Modeling and Controls course my freshman year, our team created a “voder” (speech synthesizer) in MATLAB and Simulink. We recorded our voices and measured the formant frequencies, then developed Simulink models of second order oscillating systems that could “say” vowels.

(Android graphics from Wikipedia, 4vector. Speech graphics from Wikipedia.)