The Rice senior design team Electric Owl took the $10,000 top prize July 12 in Texas Instruments' national Analog Design Competition.
Electric Owl's members are Jeffrey Bridge, Robert Brockman, Peter Hokanson and Anthony Austin, who each graduated this spring.
Electric Owl developed a full-custom set of avionics as a technology demonstration for an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of exploring Mars. Starting with a stock balsa wood airframe, the team built an entire avionics system with fully redundant sensors, autopilot control, automatic failover to normal radio-controlled operation, digital telemetry and integrated ground-control software.
Their tour de force of electronics and software engineering earned them Texas Instruments' 2011 Engibous Prize, the top honor in TI's fourth annual Analog Design Competition. The Engibous Prize, which is named in honor of former TI Chairman Thomas Engibous, includes a $10,000 award.
Electric Owl also won the award for the Best Conceptual or Computational Project at the Rice Engineering Design Showcase in April.
Electric Owl was supported financially by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and by NASA through the Texas Space Grants Consortium. The team performed its work at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.