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A one-year, senior-level lab showed three students what happens when great minds think alike. Steven Avena ‘12, Henry Luo ’12 and Jordan Thimot ’12 received first prize in a poster presentation session last April that featured the work of 22 teams—45 students in all.

Circuit breakers and fuses enable engineers to detect and interrupt most power-line faults and restore normal electrical current flow.

But high-impedance faults (HIFs) produce too little fault current to be detected with conventional methods and can dissipate massive amounts of heat, leading to equipment damage, outages and even fires.

These engineering students mathematically modeled and developed a device that uses a digital bandpass filter to measure and detect the unique harmonic properties that distinguish an HIF from other types of faults.

The class, required of all electrical engineering and computer engineering majors, was taught by William Haller, professor of practice in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and Mooi Choo Chuah, associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Second prize in the contest went to Basel Alnajjab and Christopher O’Lone, who developed “Chesstastic,” a chessboard equipped with sensors, magnets and a microprocessor whose squares light up to show a player where he may move the piece he has lifted from the board and what enemy pieces he may capture.

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