ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

7th graders visit ECE in preparation for First LEGO League

The two students look at a circuit board

November 9, 2009 — Professor Krishnan Ramu gives the inside scoop on ECE’s MagLev technology to students from Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly. The students, seventh graders, visited the ECE as part of a research project for the First LEGO League Competition.

The theme for their competition is alternative transportation, and their task is to research and lay out a creative way to ease traffic on Washington D.C.’s most congested roads. “I’ve always wanted to make things float,” said one of the students, explaining why their team chose to focus on MagLev.

Ramu and graduate students Nimal Lobo and Dong Jiang demonstrated the principles behind their switched-reluctance linear actuator, which uses electromagnets to levitate and propel a payload. Other MagLev systems use superconducting magnets and are much more expensive.

The students watched as a MagLev system levitated a table and as an elevator using the technology operated. The technology was developed a few years ago, according to Lobo, and the team now focuses more on the theoretical aspects of the technology.