Alumnus Bratton makes donation to ECE ILLINOIS Senior Design class

ECE News

Daniel Dexter, ECE ILLINOIS
1/13/2015

Story Highlights

  • Alumnus Alex Bratton (BSCompE '93) and his company, Lextech Global Services, have pledged $50,000 over five years to award to students taking ECE 445, Senior Design.
  • The Michelle and Alex Bratton Senior Design Instructor's Award winning team will receive $2,500. The teams who win the Lextech Senior Design Best Engineered Project Award and the Lextech Senior Design Most Marketable Project Award will also each receive $1,250.
  • Since becoming a successful entrepreneur, Bratton has been looking for ways to give back to the university where it all started for him.

When ECE ILLINOIS alumnus Alex Bratton (BSCompE ’93) decided to give back to the University of Illinois, he turned to the class that he believes best exemplifies the spirit of engineering: Senior Design.

Alex Bratton
Alex Bratton

Bratton and his company, Lextech, will donate $50,000 over five years to ECE ILLINOIS, which will be used to award to students taking ECE 445, Senior Design. It’s a capstone class that allows students to work with industry and community partners to solve problems through engineering.

The teams that win the Lextech Senior Design Best Engineered Project Award and the Lextech Senior Design Most Marketable Project Award will each receive $1,250. The team that wins the Michelle and Alex Bratton Senior Design Instructor’s Award will receive $2,500.

Since becoming a successful entrepreneur, Bratton has been looking for ways to give back to the university where it all started for him. He wanted to help students develop real-world knowledge of engineering that he believes is necessary to enter the industry today.

“For me, the Senior Design award is the perfect example of combining academic learning, understanding how things work, the core of ECE, and the real world,” Bratton said. “It is the perfect crossover between the academic and real-world execution.”

The inaugural Bratton Senior Design Instructor's Award was given in December to the team of Hanze Tu and Yingxi Hai, for their Laser Harp MIDI Controller with Musical Articulations. The premise of the design was a harp with lasers, instead of strings, that could play a variety of sounds from instruments like the piano and violin. Hai said she and Tu devoted a lot of time to the project, and it was an honor to have their hard work validated with the award.

“We were very surprised to win this award,” Hai said. “We didn’t expect to win anything, but when we heard our names called, we were incredibly honored to win the Instructor’s Award. It means a lot to us.”

From left, Professor Johnathan Makela, Senior Design teaching assistant Yang Xu, Bratton Senior Design Instructor's Award winners Yingxi Hai and Hanze Tu, and Associate Professor Michael Oelze.
From left, Professor Johnathan Makela, Senior Design teaching assistant Yang Xu, Bratton Senior Design Instructor's Award winners Yingxi Hai and Hanze Tu, and Associate Professor Michael Oelze.

The Best Engineered Award was presented to Blake Yerkes, James Younce, and Ryan Moser for their Smart Frisbee. Their Frisbee design keeps track of players and statistics for the game Ultimate Frisbee.

The Most Marketable Project Award went to Michael Luka, Raj Vinjamuri, and Siddharth Muthal for their Smart Patient Gown for Monitoring ECG signals. The gown communicates a patient’s status to medical personnel.

Associate Professor Michael Oelze, one of the instructors for Senior Design, said the students did a fantastic job with their projects during the fall semester. He added that the donation Bratton gave to class will push students to work even harder than before to create innovative projects.

“We are very grateful to the Brattons for that gift,” Oelze said. “We will put it to good use and it will really reward the hard work and creativity these students put forth in their Senior Design projects.”

If you are interested in exploring giving opportunities to support ECE ILLINOIS students, please contact Senior Director of Advancement Steve George by email or at 217-244-8023. Or, visit ECE ILLINOIS' Give page.

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