6 super science projects from NYU Engineering’s ‘Research Expo’

Undergrads and grad students showcased their work in everything from computer science to civil engineering.

Heading into the 2015 NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Research Expo.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

There’s some cool stuff getting made at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Lots of it was built with some sort of social mission as well, but across the board we saw a wide array of technical creativity on display at the school Friday, at its 2015 Research Expo, which featured creations from both undergrads and graduate students.
NYU had projects sorted by discipline, such as computer science, games, civil engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering. We tried to hit at least one project in each group (sorry, math).
Here’s what we found:

NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Javlon Usmanov and Sam Weissman, two of the four team members behind Lightbulb. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Lightbulb is a beta product for helping groups brainstorm more effectively. The four undergrads behind the project were working to come up with something to do their senior design project on and they realized that the hardest part was sorting through all the ideas.
Usmanov and Weissman’s teammates Joel Castillo and Panagis Alisundratos created what Weissman described as a group idea project board. As members of a team working on a project engage with ideas in different ways, the lightbulbs representing each idea grow brighter. It’s a way of showing which idea has the most buy-in from team members.
The team expects to keep working on the concept after finishing up their project.
NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Eddie Melcer, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science, with his game, “Bots and (Main)frames.” (Photo by Brady Dale)

Eddie Melcer has played a lot of games aimed at teaching kids how to make computer programs, but he hasn’t been satisfied by them, so he took his own approach with “Bots and (Main)frames.”
“I’m trying to base this game more on a computer science background foundation,” he told us at the expo. It’s about solving problems by breaking them down into smaller pieces, pattern recognition and simple programming skills. He’s built a lot of levels, so there’s a lot for kids to play through.
He was a part of the team that built “Moon Breaker,” the computer game on a ping pong table that we featured in our post about the Game Innovation Lab.
NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Lou Auguste of Team Live Longer. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Team Live Longer is taking action on cervical cancer in the developing world. It’s the fourth most common cause of cancer death for women, globally, and the ninth most common across everyone. In the developing world, patients often don’t have access to pathologists who can evaluate tissue samples to assess risk. So the team has built a mobile app and adaptor that allows a cell phone to peer into a microscope, look at samples under magnification and send them a pathologist who can evaluate.
Lou Auguste walked us through the team’s software and showed us the plastic mount the team has designed to let a smartphone peer into a microscope designed for the naked human eye.
The team is running a crowdfunding campaign right now to raise funds to take their technology to Haiti.
NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Priscila Dias with a system for evaluating problems with building systems. (Photo by Brady Dale)

Priscila Dias is working on a master’s degree in construction management. Her team is using technology from video games to put data from sensors in real spaces into 3D models of those actual spaces, so that building managers can more quickly assess problems. For example, Dias said that if someone says a room is too cold (it was too cold outside at the Research Expo for example — the problem was that Spring is on the fritz), the building manager can go through the 3D model and look at the data in each room, to more quickly find the HVAC problem.
Dias said that her team of four had found that 3D modeling technology just wasn’t as flexible as what game makers had put together. The demo room in their system looked and felt a lot like something out of Doom, but the problems their system is meant to address are more nuanced than a Mancubus, and a wrench is more likely to solve the problems than a BFG 3000.
NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Mrudula Vaidya, Lalit Damodaran and Yashraj Sahasrabudhe, the quadcopter curriculum team. (Photo by Brady Dale)

A team of grad students is well on its way to building a curriculum through which high school students could build two kinds of quadcopters, basically from scratch. One version would be a manually controlled copter. The other would be programmable.
Mrudula Vaidya, Lalit Damodaran and Yashraj Sahasrabudhe say the model drones will teach students about physics, electronics and dynamic systems. The idea is that the concepts will sink in better if something dramatic comes out of it. As Vaidya put it, “At the end of the day, this thing flies.”
NYU Polytechnic Research Expo 2015

Kylie Hall, Navin Raj and a pair of renderings. (Photo by Brady Dale)

NYU’s Dibner Library is getting an update to its roof and the university has sought ideas for how to maximize its use, according Navin Raj, pictured above.
Raj and Kylie Hall are both Sustainable Urban Environments undergrad students. Each of them made models for potential uses of the roof of the library. Hall’s envisions more of a recreational space. Raj’s is more geared toward expanded academic uses. Both of them lean heavily on green practices, particularly green roofing (the practice of putting living plants on roofs, for temperature control inside, stormwater management, urban heat island reduction and other environmental benefits).
Green stormwater management will be a growing sector in New York City. We visited a Carroll Gardens park that showcased some of the best practices.


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