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Exeter students unlock potential of microcontroller for national competition

Students from the University of Exeter have created a revolutionary security door locking system as part of their entry for a prestigious national competition.

The four-strong team of Matthew Gilbert, Joshua Holmes, George Young and Ashleigh Udoh from the Computer Science department have designed and built a system that allows doors to be locked and unlocked remotely, via a mobile telephone.

The innovative new design has been shortlisted for the Project Arduino competition organised by Thales, a leading engineering and technology company.

The contest required the students to build a piece of equipment, using the Arduino open-source electronic microprocessor platform, which tied in with the Thales business areas - transport, aerospace, defence and security.

Four teams from Exeter entered the local heats of the competition. Other entries from the University included embedded controllers for both existing mine-clearance systems and secure storage boxes, as well as a proximity sensor that records an approach of a person or object.

Each team presented their ideas and design to representatives from Thales, who chose the design for producing an embedded controller for a door-lock, which allows it to be checked, locked and unlocked via a mobile telephone, as the winner.

The winning team now face entries from the Universities of Bath, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough and Reading for a place in the grand final.

Dr David Wakeling, Lecturer in Computer Science and who encouraged the students to take part in the competition said: “I would like to congratulate all four teams on their outstanding efforts and high-quality work.

“It is wonderful to see our students, some of whom would have been unfamiliar with the Arduino microcontroller just weeks before their made their presentations, come up with some truly innovative ideas.

“They have used their knowledge, enthusiasm and skills to try and tackle real world problems, which is an excellent achievement. Hopefully our team can go on and progress further in the competition.”

Competitor George Young (BSc Computer Science and Mathematics) said:  “It has been a really eye-opening experience, not only how we were able to make our design using the Arduino, but how other groups were able to make something completely different than us but with the same equipment we had.”

Date: 28 November 2014

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