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Student Lab Report “2-­Wire Power Supply and Communication Network”

ASM Car Electronics students spent a lot of time in their second Semester completing a team project in the Electro and Microtechnology lab. This is their report

On  a  beautiful,  sunny  summer  day  in  the Göppingen  campus, my team comprising of 7 international students from the M.Eng. in Automotive Systems program successfully demonstrated the concept of our project titled, “2-­wire power supply and communication network”. With the excellent support from the project supervisors Prof. Dr-­Ing. Gerd  Wittler  and  Prof.  Dipl.-­Ing.  Jürgen  Minuth,  the  team  was  able  to  realize  a  bi-­directional  Master-­Slave communication with 2-­wires (power and ground) that transmits data through the power supply line. The motivation of the project was to reduce the number of wires in the vehicle to reduce costs.

The project brought along with it many valuable lessons that could not have been taught in class and it also provided a great platform for us to combine and put our knowledge learnt in class into a  "system"  that  functions.  Through  the  countless  hours  with  my  teammates  designing  circuits,  simulation, testing in the laboratory, I gained a much profound and deeper understanding of the topics that I have learnt during the program and also forged great friendships along the way. Like any other engineering projects, we were constantly faced challenges and setbacks that tested our will and determination to succeed.

Although the task at hand was purely engineering, what made it more challenging was working with  other  students  from  different  countries  (India,  Mexico,  Brazil,  China,  Singapore),  cultures  and  experiences.  Anyone  who  has  worked  in  a  group  project  knows  how  difficult  it  can  be  to manage expectations, understanding the other person and how to deal with conflicts in a group. Being in a group of 7 international students brought new meaning to term “group project” to me. It  can  be  extremely  surprising  how  something  simple  could  have  totally  different  meanings  to  people  from  different  lands.  We  all  know  how  conflicts  or  lack  of  communication  can  be detrimental  to  the  project  outcome  and  to  the  team  dynamics.  This  is  a  problem  for  every  organization to overcome to be successful and was also an issue for us.

Why then do we still bother working in a group? Would it not be easier to work on our own? The answer  is  simple.  We  can  achieve  much  more  together  than  individually.  The  ultimate  goal  of  working  in  a  group  would  be  to  achieve  synergy,  a  total  effect  that  is  greater  than  the  sum  of individual elements. The world is a complex place and it is impossible for an individual to have answers for everything. In our case, it meant breaking down our project into smaller components and to have different persons to focus on different aspects of the project. If the tasks were clear and  team  has  a  clear  direction  and  objective,  combining  the  individual  work  will  result  in  a  symphony. If not, it will be a disaster.  

My two cents' worth of advice to fellow students is take the time to get to know one another and be open to ideas, involve everyone, listen patiently and be explicitly clear when communicating. This means you do not only "transmit data in an open loop" but instead, use feedback from the group  in  a  closed-­loop  manner  for  effective  communication.  Too  often,  such  "formalities"  are  ignored because we wish go straight to the tasks and this easily lead to conflicts later on when misunderstandings occur.  

Without  a  doubt,  I  thoroughly  enjoyed  participating  in  the  team  project  and  walk  away  having  learnt more about myself holistically both in technical and non-­technical skills as well as made good  friends  along  the  way.  Once  again,  I  thank  our  supervisors  the  master’s  program  and  my  teammates for the insightful and rewarding learning experience.

Best regards,
Abdullah Bin Omar Salleh, ASM, HS Esslingen

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