Mission possible

30 June 2010

The winning team

Their mission, set by Detica, was to design and build a mixed signal oscilloscope in 11 days. But were they able to pitch voltage against time, in such a short time?

The business and technology consultancy tested second-year electronics students at Southampton University with this year’s System Design Exercise when they challenged 65 students from the School of Electronics and Computer Science to design a portable mixed signal oscilloscope and build a working prototype in 11 days.

Students worked in teams in a scenario that they were part of a small electronics consultancy firm and had been given precise design specifications. The device had to feature eight digital channels and one analogue, have a graphical display, be portable and robust, and able to operate in the field.

At the end of the 11 days, the teams had to make a competitive pitch for their design in front of the judges and their fellow students, with the product being judged on a set of criteria including performance, price, aesthetics and innovation.

This is the first time that Detica has sponsored the System Design Exercise at Southampton University, and Dr. Matt Sacker of Detica, an alumni of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and one of the judges said: “Detica’s involvement in exercises like this gives students the opportunity to really understand what it would be like to work in a small electronics consultancy and how their coursework will directly apply to their future careers. This was a particularly testing project and I was really impressed with the innovative ways in which the students approached it. Detica is keen to encourage electronics students and we look forward to supporting the course again next year.”

Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, Southampton University added: “Having the involvement and support of a prestigious company like Detica was an excellent incentive for our students as they rose to the challenge of producing a complex device over a very short time frame. We already enjoy a strong relationship with Detica on a number of levels, but this was a new initiative and one that enabled our students to be creative in the context of commercial needs.”

Professor Rutt is Rank Professor of Infrared Science and Technology and Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. He took both his BSc (1968, 1st class honours, year prize) and PhD (1971) at the University of Southampton, and in the course of the latter he built the first optical parametric oscillator to operate in the UK, and the first successful mid-infrared OPO. He then spent three years at a university in Brazil establishing a laser research group, working on hollow cathode iodine lasers, nitrogen lasers, and Raman spectroscopy.

The winning team members (pictured) are: Tristan Bogle, Avadhi de Costa, Tom Dell, Adam Malpass, Bekki Robinson, and Miraj Wanaguru.

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