Cal Poly Engineering Students Succeed at Statewide Competition

May 02, 2008

Dr. Michael K. Mahoney, Provost and Vice President of California State University, East Bay, presents awards to the CSU competition winners.

Electrical Engineering major Xian Wang (left), from Pleasant Hill, California, and Mechanical Engineering major Chi-Yeh Hsu (right), originally from Taiwan and now residing in Mountain View, California, won first prize in the undergraduate engineering and computer science division for their design of a light-weight, mobile, free-space optical communication system. (Faculty adviser: Xiaomin Jin, Electrical Engineering)

This is an interdisciplinary undergraduate engineering project based on Xian Wang's senior design project, supervised by Dr. Xiaomin Jin. Preliminary results were presented by Xian Wang at SPIE Photonic West, San Jose, CA in January 2008. The paper discusses a low power consumption, light-weight and low-cost 10MHz free-space optical communication (FSO). The system is designed for mounting on mobile platforms, with an effective range of at least 50 meters. The relative performance of Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Laser Diodes (LDs) used in the transmitter are compared. The receiver features a beam splitter that feeds part of the data link optical signal to a quadrant photodetector and controls a tracking/stabilization system. Since nearly all commercial FSO systems are mounted on fixed structures such as buildings, this project explores the possibility and challenges of designing an FSO system for mobile systems such as remotely-operated vehicles or ships.

The two Cal Poly students were among nearly 200 students from 22 campuses who took part in this year's competition. All participants were first nominated by their respective colleges, and then selected in a preliminary competition at Cal Poly.  At the CSU Competition, the finalists submitted written papers and made oral presentations to expert juries from major California corporations, foundations, public agencies and universities.

For more information on the award announcement: