Dazzling Light Fountain Rocks Freshman Exploring EE

March 2016

In EE27N, Electronics Rocks, students are encouraged to explore and move beyond the status quo. Most recently, students re-thought water-based sculptures on campus.

"All day, everyday, California's drought is on everyone's mind. My students chose to explore what a water-free 'fountain' might look like," stated Professor Greg Kovacs. "I also challenged them to consider other aesthetic priorities like maintenance and public interaction. In the end, I'm really impressed by the light fountain – it's dazzling!"

The completed "electronic" fountain stands nearly 6' high, with blue and red LEDs flowing along 7 semi-transparent cylinders, loosely arranged in a conical shape. Sensors on either side of the base respond to passersby by signaling the LEDs to begin a cycle of programmed light sequences.

"It's really cool!" exclaimed several students. "We talked so much about all of our ideas, and the light fountain came together, and looks awesome!"

Electrical engineering undergraduate curriculum embraces the 'maker' sentiment as a guiding principal. EE27N provides the basics of how electronic devices work through hands-on discussion, design and construction. Students hack and modify, but are encouraged to focus on building from scratch. Throughout the quarter, Electronics Rocks students work as teams on projects that ultimately inform or become their collaborative final project, which is built as a class. The light fountain embodies several EE core competencies, including embedded microprocessors, programming, power management, LEDs, sensors, and a great deal of teamwork.

Electronics Rocks, EE27N is offered in Winter quarter and is open to all freshmen regardless of their major.