Look What We Made!

Students won't have to struggle to carry three glasses at once in the dining hall. They won't have to deal with the hassle of bunched-up trash bags in the dorm, either, or search for a spot to stash their bags and coats in classrooms.

Thanks to four original creations made by the Engineering: Product Design class to improve various aspects of life at Brooks, even visitors to Brooks will benefit, now that they can consult a 3D map of campus that students created in this mathematics course.

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"The project is all about coming up with something that will contribute to making this community better," said Engineering: Product Design teacher Kihak Nam '99 of the challenge he posed to his class this fall. "They had to look around and ask themselves, 'What are the needs of the community that we can design a product for?'"

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Dividing up into four groups of three and four students each, the engineers-in-training brainstormed before diving into the product design process, "from conceptualization to prototype construction through 3D printer and testing," as described in the course catalog. Learning new skills to accomplish their task — including technical sketching and Computer-Aided Design — each of the four groups collaborated to develop, modify and create products that they presented to the whole class as their final project during Brooks' Exhibitions of Learning week.

Read on for a preview and to watch one of the presentations . . .

Trash Bag Clip

"When we do dorm cleanup, a lot of times the bag ends up falling down inside the trash cans," said Alex Picard '22, whose group devised an attachment for the side of the can that will allow someone to pull the garbage bag through it and hold it up. "That would work a lot better," he added, "because then it's really easy."

Picard and his teammates went through four stages of design before three rounds of 3D printing a bag clip this past Thursday. "Our first round was realizing that it could be smaller and not so chunky, so we cut it down and made it finer, smaller," he said. "The next rounds we encountered some issues with durability when [a classmate snapped it in half]. Now we'll test this piece and see if it works ... This is supposed to be the one that works. It's our final test run."

Tinkering to get it right wasn't the tricky part for Jerry Chen '23. He admits he struggled with imagining how the product on their computer screen would physically come together. "It was so abstract," he said. "I couldn't really visualize it but then when you hold it in your hand it's like, 'Wow, it's a real product and it actually works!'"

Testing the clip was "probably the most fun I've had in this project — even though it broke almost immediately," Chen laughed. "But even then!" He has "always wanted to be an engineer," he added, "so it was a no-brainer for me to take this course."

Picard is also intrigued by the field. "I'm interested in engineering for college so I just wanted to try it out and see how it goes," he said. "I've really enjoy making stuff in this class and then also learning about the different things that engineers do with these programs and how they actually learn how to visualize things and think about the process."

Beverage Holder

The group that created the "Never No Bev" four-cup beverage holder hopes their product will make an immediate impact on keeping the Brooks community cleaner, too. "I can attest to the need for our product because two weeks ago, I was trying to carry a bowl of cereal and also a cup ... and I spilled all over the floor in the servery," said Connor Spear '23. "But if I'd had this product here, that never would have happened!"

"It's been kind of comical seeing a lot of people trying to carry four cups at a time while carrying their plate," teammate Anna Weed '22 shared. "So, we just thought this would be useful and that a lot of people would use it ... not to mention reduce dining hall traffic."

Watch the group's final presentation:

Their original string handle design didn't stay steady enough, though, prompting the group to land on a one-piece, solid handle. "I'm most proud of the workability of it," said Taylor Armstead '22. "We didn't go through the process that I was afraid of, testing and it would keep failing and we'd have to keep rebuilding it up from the ground. We came up with the idea and refined it and then when we printed it out it worked. I'm happy that we got it down so fast."

Now that she's been part of creating something new "completely from scratch and with our own ideas," Weed said her horizons have been broadened. "This class has definitely shown me that working in engineering is a possibility that I didn't know I had before ... It's just nice to have that experience and know that I'm capable of it."

3D Campus Map

Dreaming about Disneyland isn't usually a help to class assignments, except in this case. Brainstorming about what would improve campus and help the people in it, Christian Bejar '22 said "I thought of amusement parks and how they have little small maps of the whole parks so people can see where to go."

Explaining how "it's pleasing to the eye," Bejar continued, "We talked about it, and then my group thought of making it for the admission office, so families can see the whole campus when they come for visits." It helps that his group-mates are campus tour guides.

"I think we could have this on a table in the admission office's waiting room so it's something that visitors can use to help understand the layout of campus before the tour actually starts," said Mason Guthrie '23. "And [checking it out] will help them pass the time waiting for their tour to begin."

After experiencing a setback when the map of campus the team was going to base their project on didn't scale accurately for the work, the group turned to data already gathered by last year's pre-calculus class for a task they did measuring all the buildings using trigonometry. The new figures did the trick.

"I think my favorite part is seeing this finished product," said Kerr Sjostrom '23. "We had all these 2D pictures and models on our computers and seeing what it actually looks like now is nice."

Jacket/Backpack Holder

In campus classrooms, during the winter especially, "there is a concern about tripping over people's bags and coats and it's difficult to get around in the room," said William Page '22. "So, we came up with a rough design to put something on the table that can hook it directly down and hold students' stuff."

As was the case with the other groups, trial and error ruled their design process, too. The first version was too small. The second one wasn't strong enough. Pointing at his laptop Page explained, "These are all different files from past models and tests. We're at 11 now and this is the only one that has been very successful. You can feel how sturdy it is."

All that trying again only made Page and his team more excited about finally having achieved their goal. "I didn't know how to do any of the design on this software before but now I can say that I've gotten pretty good at it and I can make my own product," he said. "It's pretty cool to see it actually preprinted and right here."

And it works. The final version is small enough to fit in a pocket, fits almost all of the desks on campus and has been "really successful in holding a backpack and not breaking at all," said Audrey Titterington '22. "It also just makes the room look more organized, in general, because now, when you walk into a room, you see everyone's bags and coats on the ground." Keeping the bulky items close-at-hand is "more useful" she continued. "And it gives you more room."

Her ultimate hope would be to share this space saver with others. "If people actually wanted to have this and use it in all their classes that would be awesome," she said. "I would use this in all of my classes!"

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