Welcome to ECE 445

Texas Instruments

We would like to thank Texas Instruments for their generous support of our course.

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This course helps electrical and computer engineering seniors make the transition into industry through self-chosen team projects. To do so, the course emulates the day-to-day life of a real engineering design environment. Students put together what they have learned in prior courses and experiences, develop teamwork and leadership skills, and gain in-depth practical knowledge in a topic that excites them. Moreover, Senior Design Projects make a good addition to a resume. Many employers consider a good Senior Design Project to be just as valuable as internship experience.

Throughout this rigorous semester-long course, students work in self-chosen teams of 2 or 3 to envision, design, implement, and document a project of their own choosing. Teams are provided support from the dedicated course staff, consisting of ECE faculty and teaching assistants, as well as other ECE departmental resources, such as the electronics and machine shop. Almost any project idea can be undertaken in this course, as long as it is safe, ethical, and has a level of design complexity commensurate with the rigor of the ECE Illinois curriculum. As such, students have incredible freedom to undertake any project of their choosing - perhaps some idea that has been lingering in their minds for the past three years. Although daunting, this freedom creates an environment that numerous students have called their favorite class.


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How to Receive Credit for Senior Design

ECE 445 is one of several ways to satisfy the senior design requirement for bachelor degrees in EE or CE. Other methods for satisfying this requirement exist. If you utilize one of these other methods, you may be required to complete the special circuit to satisfy the hardware design requirement of the EE curriculum.

Cloud-controlled quadcopter

Anuraag Vankayala, Amrutha Vasili

Cloud-controlled quadcopter

Featured Project


To build a GPS-assisted, cloud-controlled quadcopter, for consumer-friendly aerial photography.


We will be building a quad from the frame up. The four motors will each have electronic speed controllers,to balance and handle control inputs received from an 8-bit microcontroller(AP),required for its flight. The firmware will be tweaked slightly to allow flight modes that our project specifically requires. A companion computer such as the Erle Brain will be connected to the AP and to the cloud(EC2). We will build a codebase for the flight controller to navigate the quad. This would involve sending messages as per the MAVLink spec for sUAS between the companion computer and the AP to poll sensor data , voltage information , etc. The companion computer will also talk to the cloud via a UDP port to receive requests and process them via our code. Users make requests for media capture via a phone app that talks to the cloud via an internet connection.

Why is it worth doing:

There is currently no consumer-friendly solution that provides or lets anyone capture aerial photographs of them/their family/a nearby event via a simple tap on a phone. In fact, present day off-the-shelf alternatives offer relatively expensive solutions that require owning and carrying bulky equipment such as the quads/remotes. Our idea allows for safe and responsible use of drones as our proposed solution is autonomous, has several safety features, is context aware(terrain information , no fly zones , NOTAMs , etc.) and integrates with the federal airspace seamlessly.

End Product:

Quads that are ready for the connected world and are capable to fly autonomously, from the user standpoint, and can perform maneuvers safely with a very simplistic UI for the common user. Specifically, quads which are deployed on user's demand, without the hassle of ownership.

Similar products and comparison:

Current solutions include RTF (ready to fly) quads such as the DJI Phantom and the Kickstarter project, Lily,that are heavily user-dependent or user-centric.The Phantom requires you to carry a bulky remote with multiple antennas. Moreover,the flight radius could be reduced by interference from nearby conditions.Lily requires the user to carry a tracking device on them. You can not have Lily shoot a subject that is not you. Lily can have a maximum altitude of 15 m above you and that is below the tree line,prone to crashes.

Our solution differs in several ways.Our solution intends to be location and/or event-centric. We propose that the users need not own quads and user can capture a moment with a phone.As long as any of the users are in the service area and the weather conditions are permissible, safety and knowledge of controlling the quad are all abstracted. The only question left to the user is what should be in the picture at a given time.

Project Videos