Backyard Brains, in conjunction with previous MDP projects, has developed a device to collect and store audio data from the wild to detect and differentiate between birdsongs, insects, and rainfall. Students on this team will optimize the device to make it more manufacturable, user friendly, and ready to ship to Ecuador for field trials.
More than half of U.S. bird species are threatened by climate change. In order to track migrations and monitor population numbers, there is a need for large scale data collection on songbirds both in the U.S. and in remote regions of the world. Documenting the activity of songbirds remains a challenge, given the high cost of accurately collecting and storing song data. There are options for affordable, high-quality, and inexpensive microphone systems on the market. What is missing, however, is a system that will autonomously perceive, identify, store and report bird song from its native environment. Backyard Brains has sponsored multiple MDP projects in the past to design and develop a device to collect and store audio data from the wild to detect and differentiate between birdsongs, insects, and rainfall.
Students on this team will work in two sub-teams to make the concept more manufacturable and effective. One subteam will optimize the weather proof packaging of the existing battery operated device for improved functionality and low cost efficient manufacturability. The second subteam will develop a user friendly app to control the device. The final product should be ready to ship to Ecuador to collect data in the wild.
Mechanical Design (2 – 3 students)
Specific Skills: Mechanical Design, Design for Manufacturing, Validation testing.
Likely Majors: MECHENG, ISD-MFG (GRAD)
General Programming (2 – 3 students)
Specific Skills: General Programming skills equivalent to EECS 281. Mobile App development, Wifi and BLE communication protocols. Basic UI/UX design
Likely Majors: CS (All), Any
Computer Engineering/Electrical Engineering (1 – 2 students)
Specific Skills: Component optimization; optimal system design
Likely Majors: CE, EE
Wenbo is an engineer at Backyard Brains with a biomedical engineering background and several years of experience in the medical equipment industry. With his passion for neuroscience and the mindset of an engineer, he drives towards a balance between science and technology, and have fun along the way.
Dr. Greg Gage
Greg Gage is the co-founder and CEO of Backyard Brains, a company that started with Tim Marzullo as neuroscience graduate students at the University of Michigan. Greg is a published neuroscientist and engineer and has developed tools, curriculum, and experiments that allow the general public to participate in neural discovery. Greg is a Senior Fellow at TED and the recipient of the White House Champion of Change from Barack Obama award for his commitment to citizen science.
Line van Nieuwstadt
Line van Nieuwstadt has been an associate professor of engineering practice at U of Michigan Dearborn since 2015, and an adjunct research scientist at UM’s Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering dept. Previously, she was at Michigan Tech Research Institute which she joined after completing her doctorate at UM in 2011. Line has worked in the University of Michigan’s Space Physics Research Laboratory (SPRL) as well as for a wireless network operator responsible for technology feasibility studies for implementing the third generation wireless technology, and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research. She spent her early career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where her roles included the telecom subsystem team leader for the Mars Pathfinder Microrover. Dr. van Nieuwstadt also holds a Master of Engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and BSEE from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California. She holds one patent and several published articles.
Course Substitutions: Honors, ChE Elective, CE MDE, EE MDE, ISD MFG 503, MECHENG 490
Internship/Summer Opportunity: Students will be guaranteed an interview for a 2021 internship. The interviews will take place between January and March of 2021.
Citizenship Requirements: This project is open to all students.
IP/NDA: The project will be open source and all students must sign an open source agreement.