In January of your first year as a SCAN student, you will be given the opportunity to undertake a transversal team project in groups of 5. The proposed subjects cover a wide range of applications and they are rather different both from a formal and scientific point of view. Some theoretical notions needed to accomplish these tasks have not yet been studied in class. Therefore, you may have to look for relevant information in an autonomous way (with the help of a tutor).
During this project (that lasts around a week and a half) you will prepare a 20 minutes oral presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions to address the problem you will be faced with. Your group will also write a scientific report after the project is over.
To give you an idea of what to expect, here is the list (followed by a short description) of the projects proposed in 2021. They may not be the same this year.
Project 1: Measuring the Internet
The Internet is a part of our everyday lives. We use it to access websites, call relatives on the other side of the world, and watch movies on our television. Behind those services is a massive communication network made up of millions of elements communicating with one another. The goal of this project is to understand this complex structure, investigate the propagation time of information on the network, and "measure" this global network.
Project 2: Mechanics ‘Al Dente’
Galileo used to be fascinated by the strength of structures in the past. The city of Venice commissioned him to conduct research on the subject of ship mast breaking. Nobody really knew how to dimension a beam so that it didn't break at the time. It seems that small objects are relatively more resistant than the big ones. He is doing experiments with all he has left: spaghetti and a dynamometer. He would like to find a mechanical law describing the strength of the beam supported at different lengths. Will you assist him with this task ?
Project 3: Understanding the principals of GPS (Global Positioning System)
From keeping global supply chains moving to allowing us to find our way to the nearest café, the GPS system has become an essential part of modern life. Many people take the system for granted and don’t realise why it was created, how it functions, or how easily it could be withdrawn from commercial use. In this project, you will discover the answer to these questions.
Project 4: Using and modifying an educational software to simulate the climate
The aim of the project is to understand and model the carbon cycle : emissions (from volcanoes, biosphere and anthropogenic carbon emissions) and storage (atmosphere but also ocean, vegetation and soils). You will study how the various reservoirs react to changes in CO2 emissions: how the emissions are distributed, after how long they are absorbed by a reservoir, and how the distribution between the reservoirs and their behaviour change with global warming.
Project 5: MacGyver and a bomb detector
Angus MacGyver and his team are about to pursue the infamous terrorist called Ghost into the Paris underground. But the path ahead may be lethal due to the booby traps and bombs he has left behind. MacGyver uses a can that he rolls in front of him. To everybody’s surprise the can rolls on the flat floor, stops and then rolls back. In this way, the passage through the underground may be explored safely. Could you figure out how MacGyver did the trick and what physical law is behind the gadget?
Project 6: “Smartphone Physics”
We use the sensors embedded in our smartphones every day, often without even realizing it. The screen flips as you hold your phone in a landscape position because an accelerometer has detected the change. The ambient light sensor tells your screen to brighten when you go outside, and the proximity sensor tells your device to deactivate the touch screen when you hold the phone to your ear. These accurate sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, magnetometer, thermometer…) make your phone aware of its environment and actively interface with it. The objective of this project is to do experimental physics with your smartphone.
Project 7: Traveling salesman problem
Given a list of cities to visit and the distances between each pair of cities, the question of the traveling salesman is which path to follow to complete the shortest possible distance and return to the origin city. If there are N cities, the number of possibilities is (N-1)!/2, which quickly becomes impossible to enumerate. With N = 20, a computer would take 40 years to list them! The solution to the problem finds several important applications in logistics, planning, and DNA sequencing. It is also one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems selected by the Clay Mathematics Institute known as the “P versus NP problem”, with a 1,000,000$ prize. The aim of this SCAN project is to win this prize.
Project 8: Artificial Intelligence
The continuous increase in computing performances over the last 50 years has been a driving force for the development of artificial intelligence (AI). Although the concept of Artificial intelligence was coined as early as 1950 with the seminal works from Alan Turing, its large-scale deployment in consumer electronics was only made possible with the performance level reached by modern computers. Among AI, Machine Learning (ML) is a technique allowing machines to extract the necessary knowledge from given data automatically using classifiers or Artificial Neural Networks. In this project we will focus on Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) which consist in mimicking the human brain functionality by replicating artificial neurons by means of a computing algorithm.
Project 9: Basic Design of a novel patient monitoring system
In this project, you are to select a patient/citizen health monitoring problem of interest to you. Your inspiration could come from someone you know with a medical condition who has complained about some aspect of their treatment, diagnosis or the overall management of their illness. You will then come up with the basic design of a novel product/technology addressing the identified need.
Project 10: Photovoltaic system for an autonomous cottage
In this project, you will have to estimate the cost of a solar installation allowing a shepperd's cottage to be totally autonomous. You will have to evaluate his daily needs (cooking, cleaning, showering, etc) and figure out the best solar installation to cover them. You will be provided with coordinates and an online tool to help you determine how much sun the cottage gets, as well as the dimensions of the roof to help you design the installation.
Project 11: Prime Numbers and Cryptography
A prime number is a natural number that can only be divided by itself and one. Prime numbers have been studied since antiquity when Euclid showed around 300 BC that there is an infinite number of prime numbers. Prime numbers are associated with a number of interesting mathematical problems. In the 1970's one of these problems was used to create a revolutionary cryptographic system called RSA. The goal of this project is to implement and study methods used to find prime numbers, which are required in several modern cryptographic systems used in our everyday life (Internet, smartcards, phones, etc).
Project 12: Reading Light using bioluminescence
For families without access to electricity, the bioluminescence principle can be a solution to light up, especially to allow children to study. This project consists in designing a reading light using bioluminescence. You will have to understand the principle of bioluminescence, design the support and make a few prototypes.
Project 13: Non-circular chain wheels in bicycles – A critical analysis
Non-circular chain wheels or sprockets have gained a lot of interest in the amateur and professional cycling community, however their actual interest is still controversial. Elliptical chain-wheels or elliptical chain-rings, or ovoid rings came into vogue because of the logic of taking advantage of the variable leg power over one pedalling cycle. But the results are inconsistent and strongly dependent on the riders and bicycles. The objectives of this project are: a) to understand and explain the potential interest of non-circular chain wheels in a scientific way, b) to try to simulate the running of such a non-conventional chain wheel and c) to analyse the parameters influencing their performance.
Project 14: What movies do you recommend to me?
In recent years, collaborative filtering has emerged in AI as an algorithm to predict the preference a consumer would have to an item. Collaborative filtering is for instance used by Netflix to predict a user rating for films, based only on previous ratings made by other users. In general, the method makes automatic prediction (filtering) about the interests of a user by collecting taste information from many other users (collaborating). The aim of the project is to study and understand the basics of collaborative filtering. A special attention will be paid to the matrix factorization method used in collaborative filtering. The theory uses 1st year math such as the scalar and matrix products. In the final stage of the project, you should be able to run your own collaborative filtering algorithm (e.g. coded in Python or Matlab) on an example of your choice, for instance to predict the movie or the music preferences of your classmates.
Project 15: Do we lunchbox ?
The « DDRS » team at INSA (Développement Durable & Responsabilité Sociétale) is considering to offer lunchboxes to each new students at INSA back to school. This impulsion arose in the current context of sanitary crisis, based upon the observation that lunches and dinners at collective restaurants imply loads of wastes (plastic, paper, metal). But as very eco-friendly future engineers, you obviously wonder: would lunchbox be a good or a false-good idea? You will have to evaluate the needs for a lunchbox, its usage and limits.