The University of Southampton

Students rise to challenge of Detica Systems Design Prize

Published: 14 April 2010

This year's System Design Exercise (‘D4’), sponsored by Detica, presented a particularly testing challenge to second-year Electronics students.

Working in teams against the scenario that they were part of a small electronic consultancy firm, the students asked to design a portable Mixed Signal Oscilloscope, and to build a working prototype in 11 days. Criteria on which the product was to be judged included features, performance, price, aesthetics, and innovation.

The teams were given precise specifications, for example, the device had to feature 8 digital channels and 1 analogue, have a graphical display, be portable and robust, and able to operate in the field. At the end of the 11 days, the teams had to make a competitive pitch for their design in front of the judges and their classmates.

The competition was sponsored by Detica, and Dr Matt Sacker of the Detica Electronic Systems Group and an alumnus of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, was one of the judges.

Pressure on the students was intense as they worked round the clock to design their oscilloscopes and build a prototype while handling other module deadlines.

‘The D4 exercise is all about translating the skills and knowledge learnt from the course into a practical design exercise, and therefore having industrial input and support in this process is invaluable,’ said Dr Geoff Merrett, one of the course leaders.

‘As an ECS alumnus (both undergraduate and postgraduate!), Matt is in a perfect position to explain the challenges and relevance of applying the skills and knowledge he learnt at University to his subsequent career.

‘Matt has fond memories of the D4 exercise from when he was an undergraduate and, during his presentation to the students at the final “trade fair”, was able to explain how the lessons that teams learnt in both project management and “design-and-build” electronics will directly apply to their future careers.’

The winning team members were: Tristan Bogle, Avadhi de Costa Tom Dell, Adam Malpass, Bekki Robinson, and Miraj Wanaguru, and each received £100 from Detica for their prize. Course leaders were Professor Steve Gunn, Dr Geoff Merrett and Dr Rob Maunder, with support from Tim Forcer, Jeff Hooker and Dave Oakley.

Read Adam Malpass’s blog: ‘The most intense few weeks of my University life …’

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453

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