Closet Buddy Wins Northrop Grumman Cyberengineer Competition

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Northrop Grumman hosted the inaugural ACES Cyberengineer Competition during the fall 2015 semester. During the competition, ACES students were challenged to create functional inventions using Raspberry Pis, working in small groups within the ten week time period. Out of twenty ACES student participants, Mihir Yavalkar, Brunel Fangmo, and JT Blodgett took home the grand prize. The team created Closet Buddy, a virtual weather based clothing assistant, reminding you to take key items with you depending on the weather report.

ACES junior Mihir Yavalkar said, “We developed the idea of the Closet Buddy after hours of bouncing ideas off one another. We were initially unsure what we wanted to do for our project, but knew we wanted to solve a real life challenge. We settled on the Closet Buddy after one of us went to class on a rainy day and forgot an umbrella.  As college students we have so much on our minds that we often forget small things like dressing for the weather, and so the Closet Buddy came to                                                                                      fruition.”

Closet Buddy contains a coat rack and a mobile application designed to keep the user prepared for the daily weather. A Raspberry Pi, speaker, four hooks and distance sensors are mounted on the coat rack to keep track of the user’s weather sensitive attire such as umbrellas, raincoats and winter jackets. The mobile companion application allows the user to customize the attire on each hook of the coat rack.

Closet Buddy has the capability to detect the user’s presence, read weather forecasts and recommend attire based on the weather. As Closet Buddy detects the presence of items on each hook, it knows whether its recommendation was followed. As the user leaves their home, the mobile companion application provides an instant reminder if the recommended item was not taken.

ACES freshman JT Blodgett said, “One of the best things about the competition experience was that it allowed for ACES upperclassmen and underclassmen to work together in a setting that was beneficial to both groups. It allowed for a great teaching-learning exchange.”

ACES junior Brunel Fangmo said, “One of the hardest parts of the competition was coming up with ideas that were “cyber resilient” but still maintained their intended functionality in the allotted time. Merging the hardware, software, and cyber principles into one coherent product was definitely challenging! We were also excited to see the other teams’ projects and noticed that ACES students were undoubtedly up for the challenge. ”

Through the competition experience the winning team members increased their knowledge of design, prototyping concepts and engineering. After attending a workshop led by Ms. Singh from the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the team learned prototyping methods that they applied to create a functional prototype of their idea. Through rotating through the different components of their design, Mihir, JT and Brunel each had the opportunity to learn new tools.

The team also noted the importance of creating timelines and planning ahead throughout the competition. Winning the competition reinforced their desire to build on these skills in future projects.

Congratulations to the creators of Closet Buddy, and the hard work of all our ACES student participants in the Northrop Grumman Cyberengineer Competition.


Published January 7, 2016