DAVID SCHNEIDER: Hi, I'm David Schneider. I'm the head faculty member behind the Intel-Cornell Cup, a national embedded systems competition. One of the fundamental learning objectives of the competition is to teach good professional systems engineering design skills to students from across the country.
As students are accustomed to often having really well defined problems in short timespans with very clear answers, the notion of getting students to recognize the importance of performance testing throughout the design process, or even making up their own performance criteria, is a remarkable challenge in and of itself. So if we can provide students with a text on how to do good performance testing and validation testing throughout their process, or we can provide them a case study on how a whole bunch of students created a Disney inspired Star Wars pod racing theme park ride. If you were a student, which one would you want to read?
Now, in any project like this, there was a lot of systems of engineering. But let's focus on the testing elements that this project really showcased. Now for this project, we started out actually with our testing with these guys. We had students riding real roller coasters using the accelerometers gyroscopes on cell phones in order to really figure out what does a real roller coaster look like.
So then, we created a simulator in the Unity game engine to replicate any real roller coaster, then validated it using the real roller coaster data. At the same time, we were also developing a performance metrics, including a way that we could rate any roller coaster that was on YouTube or on our simulator using an Xbox controller. In the same way, we recognized we could use the performance metrics and lean engineering principles to create the hovering sensation within our actual pod design by reducing it from six degrees of freedom down to two degrees of freedom, those two degrees of freedom being basically wanting that kind of up and down motion while still getting that side to side motion while you go around the curves.
So using that idea, they design what a real pod ride could actually look like. But there isn't a real pod in this galaxy to be able to test it against. So the first thing we did was create a MATLAB model so we could show how the ride should truly perform. But how do you validate it?
So we built it, a fully sensored mid-scale model that we could actually run and then use that data in order to validate our MATLAB simulation. Then it was finally time to design the ride and incorporate all of the creative elements from their scripts as well. Out of the track designs evaluation, they recognized there was an opportunity to increase performance further by adding in a game element. Then final validation of the simulation was done using virtual reality.
So informed by all their testing, they pulled it all together in order to create this, a miniature scale yet fully functional representation of the theme park ride, including a drive card system that's fully actuated with on board camera to truly capture the experience in all of their design, all powered by the Intel Edison.
Overall, this was a fantastic project in performance criteria and validation testing. The real world nature of that project really helped students take their work to that professional level of design, and I highly encourage students to always look for that real world challenge, whether it be from their own university or whether it be from a galaxy far, far away.
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A virtual reality theme park ride and video game created by Cornell engineering students places the gamer on the “Star Wars” planet of Tatooine, dodging obstacles and picking up points in a pod racer. It was the yearlong project of the Intel-Cornell Cup team, which includes students from systems, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science and others.
David R. Schneider, senior lecturer in systems engineering and the team’s faculty leader, talks about how his students researched, designed and tested the Disney-inspired, Star Wars-themed ride, which employs an Oculus Rift for a gaming interface. Developing the ride and game, he says, was a way for the students to learn systems engineering principles, from designing to testing to debugging to redesigning.