Student teams from Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently bagged multiple awards at the Innovate Sarawak Open Design Competition and the national Innovate Malaysia Design Competition 2020.
A team comprising fourth-year electrical power engineering student Sia Yew Wei and second-year civil and construction engineering student Kho Yea Shiuan won first prize in the Mobile, Web & Others Category of the Innovate Sarawak Design Competition.
The second runner-up in the same category was another Curtin Malaysia team comprising fourth-year electrical power engineering student Kee Kia Wei, third-year electrical and electronics engineering student John Julius Danker Khoo and second-year electrical and electronics engineering student Koh Say Kit.
The first placed team won for their ‘Novel Full Battery Charging Capabilities for Quasi Z-source Inverter’ project, which involves creating a Quasi Z-source Inverter (qZSI), a cost-efficient converter/inverter built in single-stage topology.
According to the duo, the qZSI has several advantages over conventional power converters such as being able to perform buck and boost conversion without needing additional switching devices to reduce power loss. In addition, output from the qZSI can be boosted to twice the amount of input source voltage with similar duty ratio.
As inconsistent solar irradiation and temperature can cause fluctuating direct current (DC) voltage and power produced by solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the qZSI proposes a full Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) across all DC capacitor terminals. A control scheme with battery current controller, battery management and electronic circuit breaker (ECB) algorithm is also introduced to ensure continuous conduction mode (CCM) operation.
The second team’s project, titled ‘Building Information System (BIS),’ was supervised by Associate Professor of Electrical and Com-puter Engineering Dr Garenth Lim.
According to the team, building surveying, or more specifically crack identification, is an important task in the construction phase of all buildings as any cracks could pose risks to the future progress of the construction.
Furthermore, any oversight by building surveyors could potentially lead to catastrophic consequences. Hence, their project proposes an end-to-end mobile application solution to improve the efficiency of crack identification tasks in the civil and construction engineering industry. BIS utilises Mask R-DDCN for image processing because of its high accuracy and capability to model unknown geometric transformations or variations.
Google Cloud solutions are also incorporated to ease connectivity and optimise functionality between Google Cloud products. Experiments by the team have shown that BIS is capable of detecting the classification and dimensions of cracks on building surfaces accurately.
The system is projected to be able to save up to 20 per cent in time and costs normally needed to carry out such tasks.
The Innovate Sarawak Open Design Challenge, sponsored by Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC) and the state Ministry of Education, Science, Science and Technological Research (MESTR), is open to students of universities in Sarawak. In addition to solving real-world design challenges provided by Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (SAINS) and solar energy company LONGi, final-year students compete using their final-year application-based projects aimed at tackling real-world problems using electronic, mechanical, software, mobile or cloud application solutions or technologies.
At the Innovate Malaysia Design Competition, the team comprising Sia and Kho continued their winning streak, placing first in the Keysight Track for the same project that won them first place in the Sarawak competition. They also won the IEM Best Paper Award, adding to the glory.
The Innovate Malaysia Design Competition is the largest design competition in Malaysia, open to all third-year and final-year degree students in engineering, computer science, information technology, science and mathematics.
The goal of the competition is to promote innovative culture in engineering design work, tackle real-world problems with practical engineering solutions, and churn out the brightest talents for product development, further research, and commercialisation. Technology companies, including Amazon Web Services, Intel, Keysight, Microsoft and SilTerra, work together to co-organise the competition.
“It was a great honour to be able to participate in both competitions. It was an important step in my journey as a student and brought me one step closer to my goal of becoming a researcher,” said Sia.
Kho said, “Our project shows the advantage of controller-enabled engineering in the design of power converters that can be integrated with renewable energy to cope with the world’s high demand for electrical energy.”