Electrical Engineering Students standing by automatic dog feeder
"Being a member of a design team and working together is a massive takeaway in this course.”

There are many ways the UTPB College of Engineering helps students prepare for success in their careers; one is through the engineering senior design course. The purpose of this course is to provide students an opportunity to work closely with faculty, industry professionals, and fellow classmates to develop real-world engineering design projects.

Electrical engineers working on automatic dog feederAll College of Engineering students must complete this course before they graduate. In the course, students are placed into groups of 3-4 and are tasked with designing a machine, system, or process. Electrical Engineering students, Slaton Bird, Brian Grahmann, and Kelby Lang designed an automatic dog feeder for their project this semester. 

“All three of us have dogs and experience some level of difficulty making sure they maintain a healthy feeding schedule and diet,” Lang said. “We wanted to design a product that would allow people to feed their pets remotely without them stealing or fighting over each other’s food.”

Each of the students has a role in the project that fits their strengths, but they all work collectively when needed.

“I share the software design with Slaton and the hardware design with Kelby,” Grahmann said. “TheDog Feeder Design Image team is small enough and the timeline short enough that tasks are often taken by who has time when an issue comes up.”

The team has used a variety of programs and software they learned about in class to complete the project.

“We created the primary program for our system by making use of existing Arduino libraries to create a complete program,” Bird said. “We made use of Arduino IDE, Photoshop, Notepad++, NI Multisim, SolidWorks, Microsoft Office, and LucidChart.”

They said they spend roughly 20 hours a week on the project with the total time commitment expected to be well over 300 hours. The team also dedicated around 60 hours to the project over spring break. Despite the challenges this has brought, the students said the project has prepared them in many ways for the industry.

Electrical wires on dog feeder“This project has helped with communication skills both verbally and in technical writing,” Lang said. “Additionally, each group member has different areas of expertise and collaborating as a team has been key. Being a member of a design team and working together is a massive takeaway in this course.”

Each member will be graduating this spring. Grahmann explains what he has loved most about being a student at the UTPB College of Engineering.

“The college has great facilities and small class sizes,” Grahmann said. “The coursework and equipment are new and still in development offering students unique learning opportunities to help troubleshoot issues found in lab work untested with the available hardware.”