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BYU Capstone Teams with Mercury Systems for DDR4 Memory Tester

Each year, BYU Capstone partners with government agencies, corporate leaders, humanitarian organizations, and entrepreneurs to provide opportunities for senior-level engineering students in Computer, Electrical, Manufacturing, and Mechanical Engineering to participate in real-world engineering challenges. Top engineering faculty and skilled industry mentors guide students through the design and development process. This year, teams of Capstone students are participating in 53 unique projects across a wide variety of industries.

Partnering with Mercury Systems, the leader in making trusted, secure mission-critical technologies profoundly more accessible to the aerospace and defense industries , a team of six students will take on the challenge of streamlining the testing process for Mercury’s DDR4 memory modules. “[Because] these memory modules are being used in lots of applications, including defense, it is critical that they are reliable,” said Capstone team member Christine Akagi, an Electrical Engineering major from San Diego, CA.

Every penny and second counts in a company committed to driving innovation. Team member and Mechanical Engineering major Brieanna Alexander from Boulder, CO, said, “if we can save them time and money in this area, they’ll have more resources to devote to innovation.”

Rounding out the team are: Mechanical Engineering major Kelly Clingo from Escondido, CA, Computer Engineering major Sabrina Gibby from Boise, ID, and Electrical Engineering majors Kyle McBride and Riley Short from Fort Collins, CO and Beaverton, OR, respectively. The team calls itself Cognite and has until April 2021 to complete the project.

The problem is a challenging one, especially given the high speeds of DDR4 memory and the necessity of guaranteed reliability. Working together with Mercury engineers and BYU faculty experts, but driven by the students, the team will step through the necessary stages of product design and development. They have already determined the necessary requirements for the final system and have iterated on multiple concepts for how to make it all work. Prototyping is a key element to product success, and the team has collected necessary hardware and will begin putting together early prototypes. From there, they will continue to refine the design while performing both high- and low-level testing to ensure reliability of the DDR4 test module. Once the team has completed their work, they will hand off their design to Mercury engineers for final refinements and implementation.

“I was nervous at the beginning, but I think we are on track to make something really useful by the end of the year,” said McBride.

Mercury agrees - wholeheartedly. “Team Cognite is very impressive!” said Sabrina Piña, Mercury engineer and technical liaison for the team. She noted the teams’ “excellent teamwork, communication, and execution of tasks. The team is creative, willing to ask questions, and open to constructive feedback.”

This project marks the first collaboration between Mercury and BYU Capstone, and Piña is excited to see it take off, especially because five of the six team members are female. As creator of the Sabrina Piña Engineering Scholarship for Women in Engineering, Piña is passionate about the importance of engaging and supporting women in STEM. “I feel a diverse and inclusive workforce is necessary to drive innovation,” she said.

The team will present their final design and prototype during BYU Capstone’s Engineering Design Fair in April 2021.