Student project opportunities
There are many exciting ways to get involved with the work of the lab and to build your path towards a career that safeguards sustainability. Projects can be arranged that suit all types of modules including group projects, Honours projects and Masters dissertations. PhD opportunities will be advertised as they arise, but speculative enquiries from self-funding PhD candidates are always welcome.
Here are a few of the activities already underway that could be of interest.
Lions Gate Sensors
A set of sensors has been designed for the Garden to monitor a range of environmental conditions. The sensors send their data by LoRa to a Rasberry Pi gateway which then forwards it via an MQTT broker to a database. Your project could build on this platform for example by
- Evaluating/extending the sensor nodes
- Visualising the data collected
- Further developing the data communications infrastructure
DesignSpark air quality station
Also installed in the Lions Gate Garden, the air quality station has been donated to the University as part of an open-source initiative sponsored by RS Components. The station is built around a Raspberry Pi with a series of I2C sensor units attached. Your project could contribute to the open-source initiative for example by:
- Adding more sensors
- Developing visualisations for the data
- Using the data in machine learning models
Wildlife camera trap
A group project team in 2021/22 designed and built a camera trap based on a Raspberry Pi and a HuskyLens camera to record birds visiting a feeder in the Lions Gate Garden. Their report explains the limitations of that approach. A project in this area would be able to make use of the existing equipment (RPi, bird feeder, camera housing, etc.) but would switch out the HuskyLens camera in favour of a unit that incorporates TinyML for image recognition. Please feel free to suggest other ways of building on the existing work.
The long-term vision for this programme of work is to create autonomous robots designed like crabs that inhabit coastal areas and collect plastic waste. Two initial projects have been completed in this area, one on the use of infrared spectroscopy to differentiate between different types of plastic, and another to develop a walking gait for a hexapod robot using genetic algorithms. Existing equipment is available for follow-on projects.
As part of the Dandelion project, the Lab acquired a hydroponic growing environment called a GrowCube. It comes equipped with an ESP32 IoT node developed by the Lab to monitor the conditions inside. Project proposals in this area could for example
- Improve the design of the IoT node
- Extend the existing data collection application (Python back end and React front end)
- Use the GrowCube for hydroponics experiments with data collected by the sensors