FIU College of Engineering and Computing

Florida International University - Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Creativity reigned last week when three departments in the College of Engineering & Computing each held its own Senior Design Day, a chance for undergraduates to show off final projects and be judged by industry professionals.

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Solving problems was the name of the game, and for one team that meant helping to speed customers through stores’ checkout lines. “When you’re in Walmart, Publix, it takes, like, five minutes, 10 minutes,” Santiago Valerio said of the dreaded wait to pay for purchases. “We wanted something that’s instant, fast.”

Enter Kart Express, which simultaneously scans all items in a shopping cart when a shopper passes through a designated area. An itemized list, with prices, flashes up on a screen along with a calculated total. Payment can be made with the push of a button and is tied to a credit or debit card attached to a store account. “You don’t even have to take out your wallet,” team member Silvia Vidaurre added.

A total of 27 projects were displayed, among them a cabinet system that lowers to accommodate users in wheelchairs, a battery-operated skateboard that recharges as the rider moves along, a digital wallet with high-tech security features and a robot programmed to work with autistic children. They are the culmination of two semesters of work, which included doing research, looking for industry support, considering legal and marketing aspects, recruiting a professor to serve as a mentor and, not least of all, designing and building the device.

Elicer Viamontes, a distribution operations manager for Florida Power & Light and two-time FIU alumnus, helped evaluate projects.

“You can see the caliber of the students—very well prepared and very up-to-date with some of the modern technological practices,” Viamontes said. “You can tell the engineers are more well-rounded than they were 10 years ago when I was in school here.”