Sunday, January 1, 2012

End Year Post: Aurora Bearealis

Happy New Year, everyone! I'll spare the little details, but boy, 2011 was quite an adventure. A year ago I would have never thought I'd be where I am now, and it's still amazing to me how lucky I've been.

Goals for 2012:

1) Create something new that has the potential to improve someone's lifestyle
2) Do something that is universally regarded as "totally awesome, dude"

(Goals may be changed, removed, or added over the course of the year)

On to the engineering part of the post:

The past week was incredibly hectic. Ed Moriarty is headed to Alaska on Tuesday to promote interest in science and engineering in young kids. To help him achieve this goal, I designed and mass-produced what he calls "Aurora Bearealis" which combines the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) with UAF's Aurora Bear logo.

Over the past 96 hours, I've spent about 50 of them at the Edgerton Center making this project come to life. I've also consumed about a pound of boneless chicken wings and a whole pizza. That's not a lot for four days of food, but then again I really didn't find time to eat. Big thanks to Ed, Tommy, Bruno, Kenny, and the several drop-ins who took an interest in the project and helped in any way they could. Here are a few shots that were taken when I wasn't CADing or eating.

A tricky part to cut efficiently.

Approximately 150 full assemblies. In a box.

A video of the final product. Turn down your volume; the video was taken in the laser room with ventilation going at full blast.

After several days of dreaming in vector format spending more time at MIT than at home, we cranked out over 190 full assemblies, which, as I said earlier, took about two full days' time. This includes transport, setting up parts to cut in AutoCAD, cleaning machines, preparing materials for cutting, establishing cut settings, actual cutting, taking materials out of machines, cleaning machines again, testing prototypes, sorting parts, and packing them into sets of 10 or 20. It was exhausting but extremely rewarding. As put by Ed, these bears are going to make a lot of kids in Alaska really happy because they now have a really cool night light during the darkest time of the year, and the kids can say "I made that!"

TL;DR I am now one with the laser cutters in 3-402.

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