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Electrical and Computer Engineering


 Simar Wins Brown Teaching Grant

This is the second teaching grant from the Brown Foundation that Prof. Simar has received.

Congratulations to Ray Simar, Professor in the Practice of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), on winning a 2017 Brown Teaching Grant! Brown Teaching Grants support innovative undergraduate teaching.

Simar first received a Brown Teaching Grant in 2015. That award made it possible for his team to design and fabricate a new computing platform. The students created a platform packed with a high-performance microcomputer, micro-switches, LEDs, a micro USB and one hundred external connections, all within the footprint of a piece of chewing gum. The students named the platform “Wrigley”.

This newest Brown Teaching Grant will allow for growth of the project through more collaboration and sharing between students.

“Now our goal is to develop a student-centered ecosystem that allows students to share their design experiences with each other,” Simar said. He expects that this open-source, collaborative environment will spur students on to the next level of design work.

“The system will be a custom-designed website open to Rice students,” he explained. “We want to capture student experiences and use them to show other students how to build their own system.”

Currently, Wrigley is utilized in the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program and Senior Design. The VIP Program at Rice unites undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context. The program extends the design experience beyond a single semester, providing the time and context to learn and practice professional skills, to make substantial contributions, and experience different roles on large multidisciplinary design/discovery teams.

In March, Simar’s VIP Team, Team “DISSECT” (Distributed Sensors, Effectors and Computers Team) won “Best Undergraduate Research” at ECE Corporate Affiliates Day. The team showed that Wrigley builds on the capabilities of the Texas Instruments Tiva C Series Launchpad.

With less than half the size and a 250% increase in pin connections from the Launchpad, Wrigley is a powerful and conveniently sized device that allows students to apply familiar concepts in a more powerful and flexible way, to realize bigger and better projects.

Read more about Wrigley here.

-Jennifer Hunter