MIT Edgerton Center
I was part of the Engineering Design Workshop (EDW) at the MIT Edgerton Center in 2010 and 2011. The program provided an opportunity for self-motivated students in high school to create a project that blends engineering, art, and science in four and a half weeks. The project could be anything, limited only by our imagination and budget. At the Edgerton Center, I learned basic machining skills such as the use of a band saw, drill press, sander, and router. In addition to the technical skills I learned during the program, I learned how to manage a budget, meet deadlines, and invaluable design knowledge that I have since incorporated into every project that I have worked on. Below was when the program was featured on the MIT front-page. That's 16 year old me!
LED DIY Segway
My group decided to build a Segway for my first summer at the EDW. The Segway was a new and improved version of a Segway that my mentor, Alban Cobi, had built. I focused on the steering mechanism for the Segway as well as the design of the base plate.
A major problem in the design of initial Segway design was the sensitivity of the steering mechanism. In the previous version of the Segway, even a slight movement would result in a rotation of almost 60 degrees. You had to be very skilled or lucky to ride it. To fix this, I researched mechanical components that resisted change. Our final design used springs, which has a greater resistive force at higher compressions following Hooke’s law. With two large springs on the left and right sides of where the handle bar attached to the base, we were able to make the steering considerably more tactile and intuitive.
The underside of the baseplate with the attached motors can be seen in the image to the right. The material chosen for the base was polycarbonate due to its structural strength and transparency. The base plate was designed in SolidWorks and exported to a third-party to get the polycarbonate cut via a water jet. The holes on the side of the polycarbonate where LEDs would go were all hand drilled with a drill press. We also researched how to make the light refract across the whole base plate. With a combination of a lot of sanding and use of a compound traditionally used for tapping in order to smooth out the plastic after sanding. This combination made the surface inside the LED holes rougher, allowing the light to bounce off those uneven surfaces.