Team A with Dr. Michel Holder, third from left

Team B

Members of Team B work on their sorter.



Electronic engineering students create sorting system

Separating blocks of metal and colored wood might sound like child's play, but two teams of UTC electrical engineering students used state-of-the-art technology to approach the classroom project with true industrial applications.

The students in the Electronics Engineering program created a mechanical sorting system from scratch for their final class project last spring.

“The assignment was to physically separate eight different types of ‘scrap’ into separate containers. The scrap consisted of four pieces of metal; copper, aluminum, brass, and lead, along with four pieces of wood colored white, black, green, and red. The wood was separated by color while the metals were sorted by element,” according to Dr. Michel Holder, associate professor for the Engineering, Math and Computer Science Department at UTC.

Sorting system technologies included photodiode to measure the intensity of light reflected by the sample and eddy-current proximity sensors to determine if the sample was metallic. If the sample was proven to be metallic, another test determined the element. “These systems used both analog and digital electronic components,” Holder said.

Teams A and B took very different approaches to designing and implementing the sorting system, according to Holder.

According to Holder, the project was part of an electronic instrumentation class offered at UTC each year. The two teams worked independently with little guidance from teachers besides the original guidelines. “This assignment represents the application of four years of electrical engineering training and is the capstone project for electrical engineering students at UTC,” she said.