Phone-To-Car FM Transmitter; Engineering and Existentialism

Handy, Alec, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Powell, Harry, EN-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Gorman, Michael, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical capstone project sought to create a short range FM transmitter for taking a generic
analog audio source, such as the auxiliary port on a phone, and transmitting it so nearby FM
receivers could play it. It scans through the open FM channels to find an open band (one with
low noise).

The STS thesis refutes antitechnologist arguments and discusses the existential joy that
lies at the heart of engineering, finding that the act of engineering in an of itself is a creative and
authentic one, unfettered by tenuous notions of “improving society.”

The main connection here is that my capstone project was not particularly novel, but in
the creation of something authenticity was exercised. The device does not offer a means to
improve society, but was nonetheless thoroughly satisfying to realize. Typically, the mind goes
to art when thinking of creative expression, but I believe any means by which we bring about
something by our own effort is existential praxis. Whether this be in the professional or hobbyist
domains, engineering has an intrinsically satisfying nature. This is no surprise, considering the
creation of tools and devices is literally as old as humanity itself. To engineer is human, and the
antitechnologists who vehemently oppose the increasing technologization of the world (these
arguments of course have merit in certain specific cases) are thus denying the creative yearnings
of humanity itself. As Samuel Florman poetically puts it, “we have an irresistible urge to dip our
hands into the stuff of the earth and to do something with it.” (Florman, 1976).

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Existentialism, Samuel Florman, Antitechnology, Normalized Deviance

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Harry Powell
STS Advisor: Michael Gorman
Technical Team Members: Alec Handy, Kaelyn Carroll, Mike Traynor, Finbar Curtin

Issued Date: