The Electrical and Electronic (E&E) Engineering Department’s efforts to groom sought-after engineers were significantly boosted by a funding programme by MTN last year. This programme enabled a group of students to do their final-year research projects in partnership with Trinity Telecomms, a specialist wireless M2M (machine-to-machine) communications company.
As part of the E&E department’s programme for an engineering degree, students are required to undertake a final-year project that consolidates the work mastered in their four years of study. Some of these projects involve research in M2M communications and aim to find innovative ways to enhance the technology. These projects enable the aspiring engineers to acquire the technical know-how and hands-on experience on the operations of M2M technologies. However, without adequate funding and support for the project, the success of the research is threatened… which is why this funding programme was so welcome.
Some of the projects undertaken include:
- The Driver Behaviour and Fleet Monitoring project, which – in addition to tracking vehicles – allows one to detect reckless driving using cost-effective motion sensing and complex algorithms. Reports are delivered in real-time to the Internet or a cellular phone application.
- An Android-Based Fleet Monitoring System, a low-cost (and low data usage) solution to monitor the fleet (and driver behaviour) with a simple cellular phone.
- The Remote Prepaid Meter project, which allows users to programme their prepaid meter from the Internet. In other words, users do not need to press buttons to top-up their prepaid meter, as the application will do the top up on their behalf.
- Cats-eye Zigbee Network, which allows the control of cats-eyes’ flashing rate and colour from an online platform.
- The Remote FM Radio Station Monitoring project, in which the presence of radio stations are monitored through an online platform.
MTN, together with Trinity, supported six research students, and also provided modems and data SIMs to enable quick and easy access to Trinity’s online platform.
“The support we’ve received from MTN and Trinity is invaluable,” notes Thinus Booysen, Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University. “Their contribution made a significant difference to the students’ success, by allowing them to work on projects that are industry-focused. They had the freedom to purchase the equipment needed to ensure the completion of the projects, without undue financial limitations, and with the agility of the Trintel platform.”
The findings from the research will be published and also used by MTN and Trinity in advancing M2M solutions going forward.
See videos of some of the M2M projects here:
- Minibus-taxi fleet-monitoring application for Android (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEhPW0sUFGA)
- Active Fleet Monitoring & Reporting System (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziqlrNbZz6c)
- Remote prepaid meter application (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH-bfwv4Dxo)