Internet Of Things (IOT) innovation space labs

Internet of Things (IoT) is the internet working of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items— embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity enabling these objects to collect and exchange data. As IoT is taking is quickly gaining an industrial foothold in The Netherlands and internationally, engineers with IoT expertise are already needed by many companies. And while a need for this expertise is evident, within the 4TU, and specifically within the TU/e there is no hands-on courses or lab environments where students can be exposed to the IoT experience. The main aim of this project proposal is to create the required IoT innovation space and educate students via practical assignments on all aspects of IoT devices, networks and applications. Therefore, the motivation for this project is to create an IoT innovation space around gravel/net, the expandable wireless IoT network of 50 nodes deployed inside FLUX (See Appendix A for detailed information). The overall goal is to make it possible to run new applications, hosting various sensors and other hardware. This network is the result of several past and ongoing research programs, however it is not yet big and mature enough to be used for educational purposes. It should in principal scale to 180-200 nodes and become robust and easy to use allowing both teachers and students to focus on learning objectives rather than solving technical issues. 

The objectives of this project were:

  • To create an IoT innovative space DBL course within the EE bachelor program to enable students to acquire IoT skills. The DBL course will be an elective course in the 2nd year. The EE-educational management supports the creation of this new DBL course. 
  • To develop hands-on assignments in which students work in multidisciplinary teams in a DBL lab environment. In this lab environment students prepare a sustainable basis/toolchain and test bed on IoT and related hardware, software and applications. 
  • To build the infrastructure/facilities for the new IoT DBL course. 
  • To collaborate with other TU/e departments, namely Computer Science and Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, so that also the multidisciplinary aspects IoT are handled. The teaching staff of Computer Science and Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences departments will be also involved in giving form to the content of IoT assignments.  

Regarding the expected outcomes we have achieved the following:

A new DBL method is developed for hands-on and innovation and multidisciplinary lab projects.

Within the framework of this project, a DBL project oriented course has been designed for second year students. This course is elective and is open to all TU/e students. Within the EE department there are DBL projects aiming at having students to apply knowledge and practice the professional skills. However, this IoT project was devoted to develop experience to acquire knowledge in each iteration in the design process and having them run new applications, hosting various sensors and other hardware.

IoT skills such as machine-to-machine communications, embedded programming, data processing, web design are taught.

The DBL project-oriented course is a hands-on project aiming at having students work in multi-disciplinary teams in which students learn how a large pool of IoT devices, connected to form an intelligent network can be used to solve practical engineering problems relating to emerging applications such as autonomous driving and in building navigation and localization. The essence of this project course was to engage students in the design and optimization of the wireless network connecting the IoT nodes, the establishing of algorithms and protocols for data exchange as well as the introduction of appropriate sensors to collect essential data for performing the project.

Infrastructure and facilities for the IoT DBL project are built and a sustainable basis/toolchain for the DBL course is prepared.

The infrastructure necessary to run students’ projects have been developed in FLUX building.

It is expected that students from other TU/e departments, and mainly from Industrial Design and Computer Science will choose this IoT DBL elective course.

During the project implementation we have held contact with the IE&IS department mainly, in order to promote this project among the students. A preliminary meeting took place with the adjunct-director of IE, Monique Janssen, in order to include this courses in first year students’ choices regarding second and third year elective courses. As a result there were two IE&IS students registered in this course and one ID student. Although no promotion was made at the ID and other TU/e departments the fact that an ID student enrolled in this course was promising. In total twenty students registered in the IoT project oriented course. Most of the students were EE and AU students.

In addition, there are also plans to promote further this course within the IE&IS and CS departments among teachers through teachers’ meetings. This activity has not yet been carried out as the course has been implemented in quarter 1 and results of students’ questionnaires were not made available until mid-December.

Finally, and it was announced in the project proposal, the first step towards linking with the industry was to have the involvement of a company. i.e. Genexis. This company has been involved in the mid-term and final review of students’ final projects and products.

This is the first time the IoT project oriented course has been implemented. Therefore, we were keen on gaining feedback from students on particular issues besides the regular feedback gathered through the course evaluations. Regarding the regular course evaluations, unfortunately and due to some logistic problems with the new EvaSys system, the evaluations recorded only a few answers.

In terms of students’ appreciation for the course we observe that the students are highly satisfied.