ECS PhD Student awarded ENZCon Best Presentation Prize for Mechatronic Guitar

12 Sep 2013 - 11:52:18 in Achievement
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Students and staff of Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science recently attended the 20th annual Engineering New Zealand Conference (ENZCon), held at Massey University's Albany campus from the 5th – 6th September. VUW ECS PhD student Jim Murphy was awarded the Best Presentation prize for his talk about Swivel 2, a mechatronic guitar system which he is developing with supervisors Dale Carnegie and Ajay Kapur as part of his thesis work. Swivel 2 is a 6-string slide guitar system capable of the playback of fast melodies, complicated rhythms, and long-duration compositions.

Jim is currently working with composers to create a body of new musical works for the instrument. Swivel 2 will be used not only as a performance instrument but also as a tool for engineering education outreach and as a research system. Swivel 2 will join MechBass (a mechatronic bass guitar designed and built by student James McVay): both will be used as demonstration systems to interest and excite prospective engineering students.

Swivel and MechBass are both part of ongoing work being conducted on new mechatronic musical instruments. Murphy, Carnegie, and Kapur are also building new mechatronic harmoniums, drum systems, and guitar-playing mechanisms. A common goal of these separate projects is to allow for composers to create compositions, realised in physical space, which would be difficult for human performers to play.

Other new work presented by the students included ME student James McVay's report on an in-development low-cost rescue robot, ME student Tony Cimino's talk about a nearly-completed large-scale research and rescue robot, and ME student Greg Hayes' discussion of his portable electrocardiogram research. Also shown was Daniel Burmester's work on the implementation of an alternative energy nanogrid at VUW.