Every semester, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering undergraduate seniors complete their group capstone design projects. These projects put the engineering skills they’ve learned over the last four years to the test.

These teams’ projects are then shown off on Demo Day at the end of the semester. School affiliates judge them for a coveted award: The Joseph and Sandra Palais Senior Design Award.

Professor Emeritus Joseph Palais and his wife, Sandra, established the award to commend outstanding student projects. The winner is the student team whose capstone is determined by the judges to be the best.

Judging is conducted by staff members, and the students don’t know who the judges are. The judging uses a variety of predetermined criteria. Ultimately, the winning team is invited to a celebratory lunch and awarded a cash prize.

For the Spring 2022 award, two teams tied for first place. One winner was the Monitor and Alert for Substation Insulator Contamination, or MASIC, system designed by Daryl Allison, Joshua Eschler, Robert Gerhart and John Jacobson under project mentor and faculty member Keith Holbert. This system was designed to detect the levels of environmental contamination in a power grid’s insulators, alerting utility companies quicker to when something is wrong.

The other winning team designed the Threat Awareness System. The team consisted of Samantha Sokol, Axel Amarillas, Justin Van, Martin Romero and Megan Ridgway under the mentorship of engineering industry partner John Lewis. This wearable device was designed to monitor the area a user cannot see while out and about for four to five meters around them, alerting them to fast-approaching heat signatures as potential threats.

The Fall 2021 winner was the LightCube EPS, a continuation of the long-running LightCube blinking satellite project. ASU student teams have contributed heavily to the project in partnership with Vega Space Systems and CETYS Universidad. ASU graduate students Raymond Barakat, Jaime Sanchez de la Vega and Kyle DeSousa served as mentors.

The mentors were well qualified to help the students: As undergrads, Sanchez de la Vega and DeSousa were Palais Design Award winners themselves. Online students Logan Bennett, Vincent Espinoza, Samantha Martin (formerly Estock) and Seth Haber made up the undergrad side of the team.

Because COVID conditions were more uncertain in December 2021, the lunch celebration was held virtually over Zoom, with student winners, mentors and faculty in attendance to celebrate with Joseph and Sandra Palais.

Keep an eye on our newsletters and social media in a few months for our Fall 2022 winners.