University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Design Innovation Competition results announced; UND competing in Lunabotics Mining Competition

Since 2004, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc. has sponsored the Andrew Freeman Design Innovation Competition. The competition, which honors UND Engineering alumnus and former general manager of Minnkota Power, Andrew Freeman, is intended to recognize innovation and excellence in senior design projects across the School of Engineering and Mines. It requires individuals or teams of engineering students to present their senior design project to a panel of judges comprised of UND Engineering alumni and a representative from Minnkota.

This year, the annual competition was held on Tuesday, May 8. Four teams participated in the competition, and the winning teams were recognized at a ceremony held on Thursday, May 10.

First place - $2,000: “Dynamic Thresholds for an Airborne Sense and Avoid System” - Michael Mullins, EE and Michael Holman, EE. A sense and avoid system for unmanned aircraft systems provides a warning when two aircraft are approaching each other’s air space and charts new directions and speeds for the two aircraft to safely pass. Their novel design miniaturized the system while shortening the response time to seconds.

Second place - $1.000: “UAV Launcher Design” - Douglas Bradford, ME, Brian Nybo, ME, Christian Potocnik, ME. The team designed a portable, reusable system of launching unmanned aerial vehicles. This has multiple applications, including supporting military reconnaissance in remote areas. Their launch system can be carried in two backpacks and support up to 10 launches without an external energy source.

Third place - $500: “Smartphone Real-Time Sound Processing” - Njad Alzahrani, EE, developed a series of smartphone applications. Using his knowledge as a sound mixer, he developed programs that amplify and change sounds. His Story Time App lets the reader change his voice and add background music and noises to enhance the listening experience. Other apps include the Hearing Aid Solution App and Why My Baby Cries.

Congratulations to the awardees and thank you to all the teams who participated.

UND is also competing against U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate student teams in the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida through May 26.

UND's “RAPTOR” will take part in the competition, where teams had to design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot. Some of the concepts could possibly be incorporated into the design of future NASA robots. During the competition, the teams’ designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which one can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes.

The competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) which are disciplines critical to NASA’s missions.

Highlights of the competition will air on NASA Television’s Video File.

Team members are:

  • Electrical Engineering -  Jay Bellanus, Abhishek Goswami, Junyong Han, Kamran Hasanov, Craig D. Kennedy, Dustin Rudnick, Christopher D. Ward, Joshua Rogers.
  • Mechanical Engineering - Tyler Jacobson, Tyler David Roen, Daniel A. Ross, Jared Smith, Robert J Toomey.
  • Computer Science - Kaden Daley, Washington Helps, Susan LaPlante, Jane Marshal, Amrita Chatterjee, and Jeremy Straub, Space Studies.
  • Faculty Advisors - Jeremiah Neubert, Mechanical Engineering and Niama Kaabouch, Electrical Engineering.

-- Deb Austreng, director of Alumni, Corporate and Public Relations, Engineering and Mines, 777-4249,

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,