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Computer Engineering Students Automate ‘Smart’ Train Set

Students in Marcus Twyford’s computer engineering class are working on a large-scale project to fully automate a children’s toy train set. By combining content from the first half of the course, as well as material from prior courses like Programming 1, students elected to join one of four main teams, which include Software Design & Development, Signalling and Communications, Integrated 3D Design, and Track Layout and Infrastructure. “We are deconstructing an electric toy train set and building the 3-D printed parts, constructing and designing new electronics to redesign the set to work on a ‘Smart’ grid, where each track switch and train can be remotely controlled, over the web by a cell phone or laptop,” said Twyford. “Students are learning web design, automation and IoT (Internet of Things) control, iterative design through 3-D fabrication, and more.” Twyford said each of the teams have subspecialties like web development, IP protocols, and digital dashboards. The students have been working on bridging knowledge gaps and constructing their part of the automation project.  Twyford said the ‘Smart’ train set will be on display in Upper School room 109, Jan. 9 and 10. Twyford’s computer engineering course covers the history of computers, electrical engineering, automation, and robotics.