In the spring semester of their sophomore year, most mechanical engineering majors take 2.007, also known as Design and Manufacturing 1. Each student designs, builds, and competes with their own robot. This was my first real experience designing and fabricating anything more complex than a wooden magazine rack. I spent a lot of time in lab working on my robot, and the class was a great learning experience for me.
There were several ways to score in the competition, but I decided to focus on creating a robot that would lift folded pieces of cardboard and placing them on the top of the pyramid. As we were very limited in our design, I spent a lot of time optimizing my robot so that it would operate efficiently and be easy to control. Below is an annotated drawing of my original robot.
I enjoyed 2.007 so much that during the January 2011 IAP, I spoke to the teacher of the class, Professor Frey, about becoming a UA (undergraduate assistant). I spent 10-20 hours a week during the spring semester helping students through the class by lending advice with mechanical design, instructing them how to safely and effectively use the various tools in lab, offering CAD troubleshooting, and teaching them electronics/radio fundamentals. I learned a few things and gained valuable experience as a UA for 2.007, which helped greatly during the following summer.
For the summer of 2011, I obtained a UROP working for Professor Frey on an international design competition called Robocon. The competition has been held in major cities all over the world, but this year it was being hosted by none other than MIT. I was deputized as head UA for Robocon, and assembled a small team of undergraduates to aid with Robocon much like I did in the spring for 2.007. With some help from the other awesome people working with/for Professor Frey, I created a floor-plan and organized a large architecture studio space into a home-base for the teams competing in Robocon complete with a practice playing field, supplies, tools, and several tables with power tools. Below are a few pictures from Robocon.
|Me explaining something to a student from China. Photography by Justin Lai.|
|A remote controlled robot attempting to place a toy police car on top of the dome. Photography by Justin Lai.|
|Orange team handing off one of their robots in studio. Photography by Justin Lai.|