With three engineering courses, winter term is tough. Last night (this morning?) watching the clock hit 2AM, not yet done with my problem set, I couldn’t remember what it was like to be well rested.
My respite this term has been pond hockey. I play at a friend’s pond and the community is incredible. Everyone is out to have a good time, make good passes and heckle each other to no end. No one keeps score, no one gets too aggressive, and all abilities are welcome. I started playing sophomore year, and it has been really fun to improve my skating and hockey skills. The fun atmosphere makes it possible to play against really high level players while learning the game. That in itself has made it an invaluable experience.
A typical game takes 2 hours with a 10 minute car ride. So this term, when a 7 hour ski trip would have burried me further into the realm of sleep deprivation, I could afford to take a wonderful hockey break.
Engineering projects last term included building a robot for the Thayer ‘Baja’ rally race. The robot design had to overcome race course obstacles: a tight radius maze, a steep teeter totter, a sloped path and a wall. Our team earned points based on the number of obstacles our robot overcame. We designed our Baja racer with skid steering, four wheel drive, geared down for torque, and a servo that pulled a pin to pull down the hard maze. Still love to Race!
I call it the quality of life program. I asked the dean of Thayer for some money to pay for a DJ and get some food for a Thayer formal. And by a Thayer formal, I really mean a wicked-awesome dance party at Thayer with laser lights, kids on rollerblades, and general awesomeness. I have been looking at the atrium in Thayer thinking about having a dance party there for years, and it happened! Senior year bucket list item #1 down!!!
This term has been one of my hardest engineering terms at school (although ask me in the middle of any term). I’m taking a full engineering course load, trying to handle a growing mountain bike club, and get some healing/stretching/sleep into my schedule somewhere. Needless to say, I am spending more than my fair share of time in Thayer. Thankfully, it isn’t the worst place in the world to lose your mind, and when you do lose it, there are plenty of friends to lose it with you. So when I couldn’t stand staring at beams and loads any longer, I picked up a bolt cutter to cut up my banana. Chris came over to join me for this stress relieving activity.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like for a project to consume you every thought, dream and minute of your waking hour? Me neither, but I ended up having an engineering project like that this past term in school. For the last half of the term, all I worked on, for about 18 hours a day, was the diwheel.
A diwheel is a two-wheeled vehicle where the user sits in a frame inside the wheels. The drive wheels turn the larger wheel and the user moves. It has been unsuccessfully tried a few times as a serious mode of transport, but has been mostly relegated to the past. Until classes like my computer aided design (CAD) class decided to pull the diwheel design challenges out of the archives.
The assignment was to design a 3D CAD model of the diwheel with a unique approach, build and race it in four weeks. That is four weeks for all the modeling, simulations, troubleshooting, plasma cutting, welding, machining, cutting and assembling. The four weeks also includes troubleshooting the assembled diwheel, which means re-machining some parts, and re-assembling some dozen times. This is also the time frame we had for all the jerry rigging that every team ended up doing – hand sawzalling parts off, grinding tolerances larger and spraying WD-40 on everything that moved.
By the time race day rolled around, I had worked myself pretty much to the bone and showed up in my purple onesie after breaking a 103 degree fever – from a virus that raced its way through Thayer. The race was fun and it is nice to have a finished diwheel to show people where you disappeared for the past four weeks. We even received an innovation award for our dual drive wheel design! Although the next 24 hours straight of sleeping may have been even better.