Welcome to ECE 445


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

Are you interested in learning more about sponsoring Senior Design? Click here!

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.


Please visit the Sponsors link to learn more about all of the great companies that help make this course possible

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.

Control System and User Interface for Hydraulic Bike

Iain Brearton

Featured Project

Parker-Hannifin, a fluid power systems company, hosts an annual competition for the design of a chainless bicycle. A MechSE senior design team of mechanical engineers have created a hydraulic circuit with electromechanical valves, but need a control system, user interface, and electrical power for their system. The user would be able to choose between several operating modes (fluid paths), listed at the end.

My solution to this problem is a custom-designed control system and user interface. Based on sensor feedback and user inputs, the system would change operating modes (fluid paths). Additionally, the system could be improved to suggest the best operating mode by implementing a PI or PID controller. The system would not change modes without user interaction due to safety - previous years' bicycles have gone faster than 20mph.

Previous approaches to this problem have usually not included an electrical engineer. As a result, several teams have historically used commercially-available systems such as Parker's IQAN system (link below) or discrete logic due to a lack of technical knowledge (link below). Apart from these two examples, very little public documentation exists on the electrical control systems used by previous competitors, but I believe that designing a control system and user interface from scratch will be a unique and new approach to controlling the hydraulic system.

I am aiming for a 1-person team as there are 6 MechSE counterparts. I emailed Professor Carney on 10/3/14 and he thought the general concept was acceptable.

Operating modes, simplified:

Direct drive (rider's pedaling power goes directly to hydraulic motor)

Coasting (no power input, motor input and output "shorted")

Charge accumulators (store energy in expanding rubber balloons)

Discharge accumulators (use stored energy to supply power to motor)

Regenerative braking (use motor energy to charge accumulators)

Download Competition Specs: https://uofi.box.com/shared/static/gst4s78tcdmfnwpjmf9hkvuzlu8jf771.pdf

Team using IQAN system (top right corner): https://engineering.purdue.edu/ABE/InfoFor/CurrentStudents/SeniorProjects/2012/GeskeLamneckSparenbergEtAl

Team using discrete logic (page 19): http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/86206/ME450?sequence=1