Jacky Ko


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.

Steering Mechanism

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.

Base Plate

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.


DIY Speakers

During my second summer at the EDW, the project that I worked on was a set of 5-ft tall speakers. We decided to make the speakers large because if we were going to be spending our time and energy on building speakers, it better be the best pair we could make. My focus in the group was designing and constructing the housing of the speakers.

My first task was to research the materials for building the speakers. The material that we chose for the final design was MDF. MDF is superior to even high quality woods in speaker creation because it is “dead wood”. MDF doesn't resonate as much due to its density and stiffness, which is beneficial because we didn’t want the whole speaker to shake when playing loud music. An additional bonus to using MDF was the uniform surface, which made painting of the speakers very simple.

The positioning of the tweeter, midrange, and subwoofer was another important consideration in designing the speaker housing. We calculated ideal positions for the tweeter and midrange to be around ear level. The subwoofer would ideally be in the same spot, but it does not matter as much. After completing the housing, it was just a matter of wiring the components together. We added a variable resistor to control the volume of the speaker and a 3.5mm input for compatibility with media players. The speaker group and our completed speaker can be seen in the image to the right.