Researchers develop parking app

Emily Carroll

Enaho Atamenwan, mechanical engineering junior, sets up his poster on the MSU Smart Parking System. Photo by Topher McGehee
Enaho Atamenwan, mechanical engineering junior, sets up his poster on the MSU Smart Parking System. Photo by Topher McGehee

In the corner of the atrium, five mechanical engineering students stood by their EURECA poster presentation: MSU Smart Parking System. As students and faculty stopped to learn about poster number 23, the well-dressed engineers eagerly explained their research, overpowering the fact that they had only received two hours of sleep the night before as a result of putting final touches on the project. 

Junior Enaho Atamenwan came up with the idea to create a phone application that will immediately help students find parking spots without having to drive around for long periods of time, which will help students get to class on time. The application is connected to a sensor that will detect when a car enters or exits a parking spot. Then, the app will calculate how full each parking lot is.

“It sort of came to me because I’ve been in that situation a lot,” Atamenwan said. “When I had a car, it was difficult to park.”

After coming up with this idea, Atamenwan said he had to find a team that would understand his vision for this project and would work hard to get it done the right way. After working with different students, he found the right fit with sophomore Rojitha Goonesekere and juniors Abdullah Albakhurji, Mayuranga Wickramarachchi and Paul Emmanuel Yacho.

“I tried to find people that would be hard working because I’ve tried this before and most people just talk and talk and they never put in work, so I met them and I knew they would be a good fit,” Atamenwan said.

After the group was assembled, they divided the project into three parts: mechanical, electrical and software programming.

For the mechanical part, Atamenwan and Yacho designed the sensors and the enclosures to go with them. Once they were designed, Albakhurji and Wickramarachchi programmed the electrical parts of the sensor to make it work. Once the electrical parts were finished, Atamenwan and Yacho were able to test out the sensor to make sure it worked in real life situations. From that, Goonesekere was able to create a mobile application.

“We had a well-rounded team,” Atamenwan said. “It was important to find a group that could work together and piece everything together.”

Albakhurji went on to explain how the app will work. It will display a list of parking lots to choose from. Depending on where a student wants to park, once they click on a parking lot and it will display a percentage of how full the lot is with a circular, colored graphic.

“It is available for iPhone and Android and works on devices like computers and iPads,” Albakhurji said. “The app will go live as soon as we assemble more sensors.”

Group members took part in several competitions and won every first place award for their poster presentation and a third place award for their ideaMSU PowerPoint presentation.

“If you look at our application and our poster, they are both aesthetically pleasing, that is why we chose to go with a poster presentation for EURECA,” Atamenwan said

Junior Paul Emmanuel Yacho said it was a surprise to place for ideaMSU because some of the slides were either blank or got mixed up as they were transporting files from one computer to the other.

“We were fighting without our weapons so it was impressive that we actually got third place among all those amazing presentations,” Yacho said. “It gives you an idea of how huge this project is so we were very excited.”

As all of their work came to an end, Atamenwan said group members were proud of the work they accomplished aside from minor set-backs at the ideaMSU presentation.

 “I am satisfied, but we always try to set high standards for ourselves,” Atamenwan said. “The good thing is that we actually put ourselves out there and that’s a lesson to take from this.” 

Yacho said with all the final touches they put into this project, it would be a waste if the school decided not to implement this new system. 

“I am willing to stay during the summer for UGROW presentations to see if we can at least implement the system into McCoy to see if it will work,” Yacho said.

Atamenwan said if everything works out, the system could be up and running by next fall.

 

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