Meet the Tidal Team

Meet the Tidal Team

Have you ever parked your car on the side of a street on a sunny day and return to a flooded vehicle? We are the Tidal team from Old Dominion University, and we are looking for a solution to Tidal Flooding in surrounding areas of ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. We are planning to build a drone that will capture images along areas in Norfolk that are prone to tidal flooding. We will  use GPS tracking to ensure the exact location of the photos and compare these photos to the same images when tidal flooding is at its highest. We are working closely with George McLeod, Assistant Director Geospatial & Visualization Systems here at Old Dominion University, to gain access to GIS software so that our imagery can be used to create accurate mapping of flooded areas.

Lauren Pasanen, Electrical Engineer

Before this project began I thought our goal would be to get a better understanding of tidal flooding in the area. Our plan is to not only get a better idea of how bad tidal flooding can be, but use these records to help the community stay clear of theses areas during times of tidal flooding. I thought we would use tools like LIDAR and Infrared cameras to get the depth reading of flooding. What we are actually doing is using GIS software that will use the GPS points we enter to find the depths of the water. I like this approach better because it saves us time and it makes less moving pieces that we would have to add onto the drone. There are two electrical and four mechanical engineers on our team. I have enjoyed working with the mechanicals because they bring up alternative methods when designing our drone that I did not think of. I think my collaborating skills are helpful during this project because I try to keep the team talking. We are all busy senior engineering students, so most of our collaboration is done online, or during class time.  As long as each of us continues to meet during our weekly meetings and participates during the test run we should be able to achieve our goal. We will have to meet at least 1 more time a week during testing of the drone because we will need each members input.

Mark Wright, Mechanical Engineer

I am a part of the Tidal Flooding team, and look I forward to finding a possible solution to the situation using UAV technology. Before we started working on the project I thought that we would be utilizing our drone to record data of flooding such as depth and the overall increase of water level as a whole. Since we began our project took on a different spin, we are looking to take aerial imagery of flooded areas surrounding ODU. We plan on designing a drone with a camera and a gimbal which will be used along with GPS equipment, to effectively take top-down photos of areas subject to tidal flooding. This is different from my first thoughts as we no longer have to use technology such as LIDAR sensors to take measurements of the depth of the water level. We still look to keep the option of sensors to measure depth of water level open for future improvement of our prototype. The tidal group is made up of all engineers, some electrical and some mechanical. We all bring ideas to the table regarding our project but working with electrical engineers I have learned some ideas that have broadened my knowledge of what they do and some aspects of the programming and electrical components of our drone. We have all worked together well everybody handles their role and we get work done. I feel as though my collaboration with the tidal team has enhanced my skills as a collaborator, because I have been introduced to a new industry and have been researching and gathering ideas that are pertinent to our project. Also I have built a comfort level allowing me to effectively communicate my findings with my group members. As a team I think we are pushing to have our prototype working, we will need to get some work done during the next week to ensure we have our design working and ready to go for our target dates Nov. 14th-16th. We will need to meet as a group to get our prototype up and working.

Richard Stinson, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer

Before we began this project, I thought we would be flying the quad-copters over an area near campus where there was a lot of flooding, whether from a storm or high tides, and try to estimate the depth of the flooding based on some sort of sensor on the copter itself, such as a sonar (ping), LIDAR, or an IR sensor. However, we are actually flying the copter over the flooded area in Norfolk, and taking a sequence of pictures to plug into a GIS (Geographic Information System) Software, which will stitch the pictures together based off of embedded GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates, outline the areas that it believes to be flooded from the color it sees on the picture, and estimate the depth based on sea level knowledge built into the software. This project has shown me something which I’ve learned over the last year working on other projects: having a multidisciplinary team is key to success. The Tidal team, composed of 2 Electrical Engineers and 4 Mechanical Engineers, is able to work together on design ideas and software implementation with ease. Working on this project has also shown me that I am able to work in a team setting very well, either taking charge when I need to or stepping down and following the lead of someone else if it’s necessary. In order for this project to continue on track, the team will have to order all the parts on our BOM, and begin the work of assembling our copter and getting the code implemented on the controller to take the pictures as we fly it over our targeted flood zone.

Stephen Buchanan, Mechanical Engineer

Before starting on the tidal flooding project, I thought that the goal of the project would be to determine where the worst flooding occurs in the area around the ODU campus. Since starting I have realized that our goal is to record actual flooding and to determine the depth of the flooding using GIS software. Working on this project has allowed me to see what it is like to work with engineers from different disciplines. Our team consists of four mechanical engineers and  two electrical engineers so working together requires us utilizing our skills to their fullest potential. This project has helped my collaborating skills by forcing me to finish group assignments and plan each step of the project without being able to meet often in person. In order to meet our final deadline my team has to have more meetings outside of class and spend more time working on the project. We have a lot of work to do in order to be ready in time for the tidal flooding event on the 14th-16th of November.

Jason Harris, Electrical Engineer

Prior to beginning this project I thought I would be setting a drone to observe the flooding patterns in the Norfolk Va area. After meeting with our adviser, George McLeod, our task evolves using the drone to take images of flooding and high tide areas and feeding that data into a GIS(Geographic Information System) for analysis.
This project is a great opportunity to get experience working with other discipline. The key to working with other disciplines is communication and delegation of roles. For me this project taught me how to “translate” and “interpret” terms when dealing with other disciplines. To meet our deadlines we will have to use all of these communication skills to coordinate task and meet McLeod’s expectation.

Steven Snyder, Mechanical Engineer

When we started this project, I imagined that we would be measuring flooding using advanced equipment such as lidar or radar technologies.  As we progressed,  I realized that the scope of our project was much different.  We ended up designing a drone that would take aerial photography over a flooded region.  To accurately understand this flooding, instead of using any other measuring equipment, we used the images themselves to show the extent of flooding.  The aerial photograph’s are placed into GIS software, which already includes the elevation data for that region.  This project has positively influenced my interdisciplinary skills, including efficently managing many skills within a group.  I wish that our group had a bit more diversity, but we still bring many great skills to the table. In order to meet our final deadline, our team needs to better communicate and find extensive meeting times to handle some of the details involved from design, to conception, to presenting our project.

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