Remote sensor data logging for coastline environmental sensors

Faculty Mentor: Richard Martin

Professional Staff Mentor: Tom Lum

Research Description:

Core1 of the EPSCoR Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware (WiCCED) Project is to develop novel sensors capable of detecting organophosphates, nitrate and metal (loids) in the coastal environment.  We propose to generate a Smart Sensor Platform integrating these new sensors.  Students working on this would analyze the power requirements and data communications techniques (both wired and wireless) accessible in this application and environment.  Tasks would involve circuit design, printed circuit board layout and fabrication, sensor integration, and testing. 

Research Questions:

  1. What are the power requirements for the sensor and data communications electronics?
  2. What is the typical deployment of the sensor (i.e. surface of the water or at depth)?
  3. What is the output of the sensor and what type of Analog to Digital Conversion is needed (bit depth and sample rate)?
  4. What data communications are best suited for this sensor network? Are cellular data links feasible or are satellite links required?
  5. What is the accuracy of the sensor measurements and how can remote calibration in the field be performed?
  6. What is the best way to make the data accessible (Delaware Environmental Observing System – DEOS, etc…)?

Student Learning Objectives:  Professional and Research Skills

This internship focuses on the development of the following professional and scientific skills.


Broad Professional Skills

Specific Skills

Planning and time management

Ability to set and complete specific goals of varying scope

Work independently

Independent work ethic – work independently to problem-solve

Collaborative skills

Learning to complete tasks efficiently and effectively with others

Express ideas in writing and verbally

Communicate with diverse audiences – Development of impactful poster and oral presentations. Honing ability to deliver scientific results/impacts to people of interdisciplinary background.


Broad Scientific Research Skills

Specific Skills

Understand scientific terms

Learn about the threats to our coastline and the associated chemical markers.  Learn about microcontrollers , ADCs, and digital communication links.

Literature analysis

Ability to effectively find and utilize scientific manuscripts related to environmental sensor monitoring and data logging.

Use scientific tools

Learn PCB Design, soldering skills, programming of microcontrollers in an embedded system in an Integrated Development Environment.

Recognize simple patterns in research data

Work with other project members to analyze the data for accuracy and usefulness.

Apply research tools and techniques in research experiments

Use Design Rule Checks and netlist checks to verify PCB design. Use debugging tools with in the programming IDE to analyze microcontroller code.

Analyze research data

Work with other team members to determine best methods to access and display the sensor data. 

Understand, apply, and explain scientific concepts and theories

Freedom to form questions and plan methods for addressing challenges. Learning to effectively communicate results through oral presentations and manuscript writing.


Introductory experience with microcontrollers and C or Python programming languages.

Work Environment and Expectations:

Laboratory environment:  Evans iSuite including the Collaboration Hub and Maker Space.  This includes soldering and test equipment, 3-D printers, laser cutter, and prototyping tools.  Hours are flexibly determined between student and mentor.

Students will work part time during the fall and spring semesters, and full time during UD Winter Session, January 7-February 8, 2019. Students will also participate in a retreat, communications workshop and end of internship spring symposium.