Seniors Design App for Microsoft’s New HaloLens

By Alex Maurer

Every semester at UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering (SCE), students apply their skills and knowledge to their hands-on Capstone Senior Design Project.  For computer science seniors Eric Lytle, Zach Wolf, Jarren Back, Cameron Knight, Eric Wilson, and Alex Mammele, this capstone project afforded them the opportunity to work with the innovative technology of the HoloLens.  Teaming up with the School of Computing and Engineering’s Recruitment staff, these seniors designed an app that can be used in high school and middle school classrooms throughout the Kansas City area to showcase the exciting and cutting-edge work of SCE students.

Through the use of the programming language Unity, a language that will be introduced into computer science classes in SCE this spring, they developed an app that provides a mixed reality for users that combines augmented and virtual realities.  With this app, users can spatially map the environment they are standing in and incorporate holograms that interact with their actual environment.  In this case, UMKC’s mascot, Kasey the Kangaroo, will chase after objects that the user can “throw” into their environment.  This gives the user a fun interactive experience with the environment they live in (augmented reality) and the objects created within the app (virtual reality).

Due to the recent release of the HoloLens, these students were presented with the unique challenge of not only programming the app, but researching and discovering how to create successful programming and code through a trial-and-error process.  While this process proved tedious, Eric Lytle noted that the “exploratory programming” of this app was one of their favorite experiences with this project as it allowed them to develop new skills and knowledge, and be at the forefront of technology.  Not only did this exploratory programming provide a unique experience for this group of students, it also stands to create new opportunities for future SCE students who seek to further develop the app and create new uses for the HoloLens.

Learn more about the HaloLens at:

View the HaloLens in action at SCE:

Q + A with Civil Engineering Student Terry Bondy

Current City: Kansas City, MO  Hometown: Calgary, AB, Canada

Why did you choose UMKC:
I chose UMKC because I went to High School in South Kansas City, and UMKC was close to home. I also wanted to go to university in a city that was large enough to feel metropolitan, without being too large. UMKC also offered lots of scholarships.

What are you studying and why did you choose this:
I am studying civil engineering, with an emphasis in structures. I chose this field because I like to work with large projects, and I wanted a career that would allow me to work in different regions of the country. Since people will always need safe structures to live in, I figured it was a pretty safe career to get into. I also want to work with different industries. I like that structural engineers can build schools, hospitals, conference centers, office buildings, and lots of other things.

What do you love the most about UMKC:
My favorite thing about UMKC is how many opportunities there are to be involved. There are so many campus jobs, volunteer opportunities, and research projects available to work on.

What is your favorite class:
That’s a difficult question. It’s probably either CE 321: Structural Analysis, or CE 323: Steel Design. Until I took these classes, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be a civil engineer. After taking these two classes, I learned how interesting designing structures can be.

Are you involved in any organizations or honor societies? Why did you decide to join:
Yes, I’m the Secretary for the Missouri Delta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. I am also a member of the Student Activity Fee Committee, as well as the Steel Bridge Design Team. I also work as a student ambassador for SCE, a teaching assistant, and a math/physics tutor. At first, I joined some of these organizations so I would have something to talk about during job interviews! But looking back, the extra-curricular things I’ve been involved in at UMKC have been just as rewarding as the classes I’ve enjoyed

The Baja Team Races To Win

Know what it takes to build a fully functional vehicle from scratch within a year? Ask our Baja Buggy team. With just twelve months and a $20,000 budget, the team’s objective is to design a vehicle that could be accepted for manufacturing while trying to simulate real-world engineering design projects and their related challenges. In addition, the students work as a team to design, build, test, promote, and compete the vehicle with a given set of rules. As the incoming president of the Baja Racing Team, Christian Derra describes, the best thing about Baja is that “The team gives students opportunities to apply the entire engineering process and fabricate what they have designed.” Each year the team races in 2 to 3 locations ranging from California, to Portland, the Tennessee and more!

Now, imagine trying to race that vehicle you built against 100 other cars in a range that may be muddy, desert like, or filled with hills! The Baja Racing team has competed in all types of terrain, including their most recent trip to a very desert like location, as Derra described it as a “sun sand range,” just this past month. The ten team members, SCE students; Christian Derra, Nic Basore, Christopher Shinn, Meagan Holloway, Brent Norris, Brandon Norris, Jeffrey Earl, Robbie Beers, Nicholas Doolittle, and Alex Eckhoff, just got back from Gorman, California where they placed 26th overall out of 100 teams. The overall scoring was dependent on 3 separate races, the Endurance Race (29th place), the Hill Climb (14th place), and the Acceleration Race (23rd place).

Just upon coming back, the team has already started plans for the upcoming year. The team is always recruiting new members of all types of majors, if you’re interested in joining, please contact

Learning to Fly with Dr. Fields

Click here to play video via YouTube.

We’re all a little fascinated with drones now, right? A quick visit to amazon and you can find over 10,000 commercial unmanned aircrafts available for purchase. If you’ve visited a local park, headed out to a sporting event, or popped by UMKC’s campus, you’ve probably seen them in the skies taking video or photographs – but for SCE faculty member, Dr. Travis Fields, they are doing something a bit more complicated, learning to fly.

Dr. Fields is conducting a research project that is focused on the building of a quadcopter that is much cooler than the traditional ones. How so? This drone can learn. Funded by a University of Missouri Research Board grant, his project entitled “In-Flight Learning with Indirect Adaptive Control: A New Paradigm in Flight Testing and Control” explores how to build an aircraft that can adapt as it is dropped and figure out how to adjust its behavior to stay in the air and avoid crashing.

As Dr. Fields explains, “the learning-based control system invokes small oscillations to the four quadcopter motors in order to learn how each motor effects the quadcopter motion. The oscillations provide sufficient data to create a model that can be used to efficiently control the aircraft.” Graduate student, Mohammed Alabsi, has been developing and testing this control system alongside Dr. Fields in the UMKC Drone Research and Teaching Lad (The DRAT). Check out our video to see what’s happening now. When the full research is completed, the ideal quadcopter would have a “fresh-brain” of its own. It will then be tossed from a building and will teach it’s self how to fly prior to reaching the ground!

Tech, Art and KC – Haya Qureini

Hey! My name is Haya Qureini and I’m a senior pursuing a double degree in electrical & computer engineering and computer science. I’m an artist, a die-hard Kansas Citian, and I’m all about creativity and innovation. My dream is show everyone how art and engineering are beautifully immersed and intertwined in the world we live in.

When I first was exploring where to do my undergraduate program, I decided to attend UMKC because of its academic reputation, its location, and its close proximity to home. The degree program I’m studying is only available at 11 other universities, making SCE an exceptionally great school to pursue my passion for engineering.

I wanted to come to a school that would challenge me both inside and outside of the classroom while providing support to allow me to grow academically and personally. SCE simply provided that by having some of the leading professionals teaching the courses, the technology that is up to date with the industry, and the organizations that continuously provide leadership skills to students. I also wanted a school that would provide the opportunity for me to pursue not only my passion for engineering, but also my passion for art. Since UMKC provides so many degrees and SCE is flexible with courses, I’m able to pursue my double degree in engineering and a minor in art with complete ease.

Aside from how great the academic reputation is at SCE, I also chose UMKC for its location. It’s based in the best city in the Midwest! I feel like Kansas City is the perfect place for a student that wants to experience the college life to its fullest. There’s The Plaza, Westport, and Downtown, and they’re all relatively close to the school, opening opportunities for so many great events on a constant basis. I’m able to have a social life and go out with friends while maintaining my academic career, all at the same time. Not only that, but since UMKC is very close to home, I’m able to be with my family whenever I please.

During the past few years that I’ve been here, I have come to value UMKC more than I ever thought I would have. This school has met more than my expectations and I know that I made the right decision to attend UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering.