South Park High School Students Compete in STEM Competition

South Park High School Students Compete in STEM Competition
Posted on 02/23/2017
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Six South Park High School students from Mr. Siniawski’s Engineering Design and Development course recently competed in the PA Governor’s Western Region STEM Competition. Brandon Brewer, Eric Carr, Sam Hartman, Dan Irwin, Bret Leydig and Jake Rattay diligently worked since mid-November to research, design and prototype a 3D scanning device.

The junior- and senior-level capstone course focuses on the Engineering Design Process and promotes problem solving abilities and STEM related skills. For the competition, the students chose to design and prototype a scanning device which utilizes Raspberry Pi microcomputers and 8-megapixel cameras to quickly and efficiently capture a subject and produce an interactive 3D model of it. The large and otherwise difficult to create 3D models could be utilized for medical evaluations from remote locations, illustrative purposes within a larger interactive setting or for commercial production of scale replicas. 

The team researched existing technologies, surveyed instructors and peers for data and utilized online resources to come up with its design constraints and to create a variety of brainstorming ideas.  The final design is a six feet tall stationary stand with five mounted cameras.  The prototype was designed and parametrically modeled by junior Sam Hartman in Autodesk Inventor. Sam used his previous class experiences in CNC and 3D printing to produce the complex apparatus, custom hardware cases and intricate mounting brackets. The microcomputers at each camera receive a Python program to instantaneously capture photos. As the subject rotates in front of the device, the photos from the multiple capture angles are sent through secure file transfer protocol to a central file server where they are stored. Junior Eric Carr and senior Jacob Rattay specialized in this programming and file transfer tasks which proved to be the most complex portions of the build.

“We found a lot of great resources during our research, but learning all of the necessary protocols and executing the programming commands simultaneously through an SSH interface took us the majority of our allotted project time,” said Carr.

The final 3D model is stitched together from this bank of images and then edited to smooth imperfections and correct geometry issues. Seniors Brandon Brewer, Dan Irwin and Bret Leydig managed the capture and software aspects of the final model.

“We’ve tried various software titles to create the geometric mesh out of the images with varying degrees of success,” said Leydig.

Their final design utilized the Autodesk Remake software and takes approximately 25 minutes to edit a final rendering from the photos.  

Even though the students did not place, they gained a lot from the experience.

“It’s great to look at our final prototype and know that our entry was superior to all of the others in both build quality and complexity,” said Mr. Siniawski. “The students performed well during the presentation portion of the competition, but their concept didn’t capture the judge’s interest enough to move on to the state level. All-in-all, their comfort level and mastery of the 21st century technologies and content reflect well on our engineering pathway here at South Park, and I was happy with their effort.” 

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