The Catholic University of America

March 20, 2009

CUA Team to Compete in March Madness for the Mind

A Catholic University student team is one of 12 groups participating in the annual March Madness for the Mind exhibition at the Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 20.

For the past year, John C. Barnes, a senior mechanical engineering major from Alexandria, Va., and Dung A. Nguyen, a junior electrical engineering major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have been developing a three-dimensional imaging system with the help of a $14,500 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, which sponsors the event. March Madness for the Mind is an opportunity for college students to unveil their inventions to the public during the one-day exhibit.

CUA is a first-time participant in the exhibition. Approximately 40 schools submitted applications to be part of the event.

The CUA imaging system is innovative because it is capable of capturing highly accurate images in real time, i.e., between 10 and 20 views a second, according to Zhaoyang Wang, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and faculty director of the project. Such three-dimensional (3-D) imaging systems can serve as a substantial supplement to conventional two-dimensional vision and imaging.

Potential applications for 3-D imaging include image construction, 3-D vision in medical practices, product inspection and quality control in manufacturing, vision systems for unmanned vehicles and 3-D object digitization in entertainment applications. For an example of what the system can do, click here.

Wang also says that the students' prototype would cost remarkably less than current commercial models, something that could make it more marketable.

"Students can learn a lot from this experience," Wang says. "For instance, they can learn how to apply what they have learned in class to real applications, how to perform advanced research, how to transform an idea into a real product, how to start a company and how to find investors."

The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, of which CUA is a member, engages more than 5,000 student entrepreneurs each year, leveraging their respective campuses as working laboratories and incubators for businesses and ultimately helping them to bring their concepts to commercialization, according to the organization's Web site.