Lassonde students engineer some magic at global competition

The Wandmakers demonstrate their project

A team of undergraduate students from the Lassonde School of Engineering dazzled an international audience in Munich last month with a magical display of their Harry Potter-inspired wands.

The Wandmakers demonstrate their project
Two members of the Wandmakers team from the Lassonde School of Engineering demonstrate their project

The “Wandmakers”, a team made up of Lassonde students Sonal Ranjit, Chitiiran Krishna Moorthy and Kajendra Seevananthan, with guidance from graduate student Foad Hamidi, competed in the Student Design Competition at the International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI) Feb. 16 to 19.

Design competition participants were challenged to construct a tangible object that would challenge our assumptions of normality.

“It was such a pleasure facilitating the student team’s project from the beginning and seeing how their ideas went from conception to development to presentation in the space of a few short months,” said Foad Hamidi, a PhD candidate at Lassonde. “Their presence on the international stage is testimony to the great potential of our students. Their enthusiasm and good energy was infectious.”

Their project, developed in the Graphics and Media at York lab, involves the design and development of 3-D printed, computationally augmented, Harry Potter-inspired wands. The wands were embedded with micro-controllers and sensors that detect patterns in motion and activate laser beams, with the user selecting from pre-programmed movement patterns or new patterns. The physical wands were designed by the students using 3-D CAD software and printed on a 3-D printer.

Melanie Baljko, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at the  Lassonde School of Engineering, praised the Wandmakers team. “I’m very proud of all the student project teams,” said Baljko. “They gained so many new skills and showed such energy and enthusiasm for the MakeShop workshops. I’m proud of our graduate program, which has great PhD students, like Foad, who are such effective mentors.”

TEI is a global conference where top researchers in the field of human computer interaction – and, specifically, interaction design, user experience and interactive art – come together to present and discuss their latest findings and innovations in the field.