Friday, December 27, 2013

No Breaks on Break

While on break, the class has come back in for a full day of work. The class started their morning at 9am and each group gave their 2 week progress report presentation. We used these presentations as a dry-run for our midyear presentation on January 14th. Working all together in the school allows for intergroup communication that would be harder to achieve at home. The other reason to work in the school is for the use of the laser cutter and CNC mill. However, due to a computer malfunction, the machines are not connecting to a computer rendering them useless for today.
Despite this, the class has made good progress and we might have even come up with our product name! After break, it's only two weeks until the working prototype, so until then, it's nose to the grindstone! Now back to work!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Presidential Address

These last few months have been nothing short of difficult for the Saratoga InvenTeam. The class has faced challenges and setbacks nearly weekly as we strive to complete our printer by the end of the year. From botched stepper motor drivers, to shoddily made wooden mockups, our lows have been down there. However, we have had our fair share of achievements: the class has programmed the stepper motor, completed part of an amazing graphical user interface (GUI), created templates for ease of printing with small part, built a sturdily made second prototype, and completed resin testing.

My job as Project Manager entails delegating work, motivating students, devising a way to hold people to what they say they will complete, as well as providing an image, keeping the class on track, and keeping the class working efficiently. We’ve recently set about a new approach to increasing productivity to have students own up to what they have accomplished, letting them feel proud when they’ve completed outstanding work. Each group has to face the class in two week presentations, and “create” some new motivation as they stand in front of their peers and explain their progress. It goes without saying, not having much to show for these presentations could prove to be slightly embarrassing. Also, sitting down with students on an every-other week basis to create goals, has also contributed to our success as we move forward.

The next few months won’t be easy, with a laundry list of tasks to complete. We still have to get the slicing working for the .stl files, create an aesthetically pleasing design, and market our product to the public, but I’m positive the class has what it takes to come out in June with a product that we are proud to stand behind.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Stepper Motor is Working!

At long last, the stepper motor is finally working!  Using the new driver that came in, we were able to have the motor successfully spin at regular intervals.  Our work day will be spent improving this, hopefully implementing microstepping and the z-table if possible.  We've also been busy testing out each of the sensors that we will be using.  The infrared sensor was tested the most thoroughly, and the temperature sensor also works as expected.  We were able to complete some testing with how the resin affects the infrared sensor, but we need to do more to obtain actual data. We are very happy with our work and feel that we at a good location right before the break, and hopefully we can continue to be productive even outside of school.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Code for Kids

Throughout the month of December, the Elementary Engineering group has been working to further develop the programs that we have instated in the local elementary schools.

In Geyser Road Elementary School, the students have been working on using the LEGO WeDo programming to make their creations come to life. To help the students bridge the hardware and software aspects of LEGO Engineering, we created physical blocks to represent the blocks on the program. These blocks were laser cut out of Lexan and engraved with the name/ function of the block. They were then spraypainted the same color as the blocks that they represent in the program and stickered with the image of the block that appears in the program. Theses blocks really helped the students to make their “programming sentences” and the students enjoyed automating their LEGO Legs so to kick a ball into the goal! This Pilot is becoming a true success!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Beagle Bites Back

Currently, half of the programming team is working in collaboration with the electronics team in order to getting the stepper motor working with our program. We have run into several problems, but now we have narrowed it down the possible causes for glitches and are working on fixing it. One major change that we have decided to make is that we are now using an Arduino board instead of a Beaglebone. Recently, the Beaglebone has been temperamental about working, so we think this switch will help us complete our goals much faster. The rest of the team is working on how process the code to process what the consumer wants to make, and turn that into the actual printed object. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bookfair Fundraiser

Come one come all to the EDD Book fair at  the Saratoga Barnes and Noble, this Sunday, 11/15, to help support the production of our 3D Printer! For any purchases make on site that day, 15% of the profits will be donated directly the Engineering Design and Development class of 2014 to aid in our continuation of our 3D DLP Printer. A few of our students are also musically talented and will be playing throughout the day and more of our students will be around and would love to talk about our project! It's the perfect environment and time to get some holiday shopping done.

Can't attend? Not a problem. If you order online at any time from 12/15-12/20 and use the Bookfair ID 11232345 at the checkout, we will still get 15% of the purchase!  
This is a great cause to help before the holiday season as we rapidly approach our prototype deadline of January 14th. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

3D Makeover

Today, a major decision had to be made regarding the aesthetics of the first prototype for our 3D printer. Up until this point, the design we had been going with was simple and over used. We wanted our machine to stand out, so it was time to once again hit the drawing board. For homework, everyone on the build team had to design and sketch up a 3D printer based completely on aesthetics. Our team leader, Deirdre, compiled our ideas and narrowed them down to three different exterior possibilities. Prior to splitting off to do our individual work for the prototype, the whole team met and discussed the design possibilities.  After the vote, it was unanimous that we go with the rounded front version, the green-colored one in the picture. We decided that this version was unique and different enough from the competition so it would be noticeable, but also efficient and not out of range for our resources. Our next step in deciding aesthetics for this design will be figuring out the fine details of our printer: how the door will open, the specific dimensions needed for the z-table to fit, and  how the components will fit inside the machine. For now, we have the main aesthetic design for our 3D printer figured out and in the works.

Monday, December 9, 2013


A huge goal for the Marketing team is to end the year with more money than the initial value that we started with. Fundraising is a huge asset to our success and we have been doing very well making the funds to stay on top of our "bills." In the past month, we had our 99 Restaurant fundraiser which consisted of dining profit and some locally donated raffle baskets. Most recently, we just concluded a Spa Day raffle (donated by one of our student's mother), which brought in a significant amount of money. Today, we began a fundraiser to raffle off one of our assistant principal's parking spot for the month of January, a treat for any senior at Saratoga High School. He kindly donated the spot to us and we are excited to have it! We are also selling candy bars at a table in the front of our school with the raffle tickets. On December 15, we are having a Barnes and Noble Book Fair fundraiser where we will discuss our project to customers, as well as feature some of our multi talented students who will be playing music. In the future, we plan on hosting a fundraiser at Chipotle and at our local Bow Tie Cinema, and also, selling more candy around school. Thus far, fundraising has proven to be a successful endeavour.The Marketing Team continues to develop our products image, and we hope to have a name and logo by January 14, 2014!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Retracing Steps

While the stepper motor control software is functioning correctly, we are encountering technical problems in trying to actually run the motor. We have checked and double-checked all of our wiring and we decided that the problem may lie in the driver chip itself. A fresh new chip has been ordered, so we will soon begin retesting, rewiring, and keeping our fingers crossed.
In the meantime, the electronics team will be starting to work on configuring our infrared sensors. Using lasers and photocells, these devices will be used to measure how much resin is left in our storage tank, and notify the user when the "printer runs low on ink", so to speak. We hope to get these sensors and the stepper motor working soon, so we can include them in our initial prototype.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Murphy's Law

For the last few weeks, the programming group has been working on a variety of tasks. Several members of the team are already working on GUI related programming to create a more user friendly interface for our rapid prototyper. On top of that, we have also written a script to test the stepper motors and a stepper motor class to be used in later programming. Working with close association with the electronics group, we have been trying to get the stepper motors up and running. From the programming side, the stepper motor programs have been successfully debugged, however, we have had issues regarding the wiring of the stepper motors. According to Murphy's law, everything that could possibly go wrong will go wrong. Just as we were reaching the wire (no pun intended) for a deadline, the electronics group may have accidentally fried a BeagleBoard by running too much voltage through it while testing the stepper motor. Despite this, we still believe and have hope that the BeagleBoard will be usable. Upon the completion of the stepper motor system, we will be able to move forward on the other tasks that await.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Working Overtime

Today, half of the build team got together and did a little extra work for our skeleton prototype. No session is complete without a trip to home depot, roaming the isles aimlessly looking for bolts, wood, and nails. After purchasing all the things we needed, we got to work. Although we didn't have all the tools needed to work, we made headway on our Z table and on a DIY vacuum former. The vacuum former will be used to help the process of molding the UV blocking acrylic for the top hemispheres of the machine.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mounting Suspense

The AutoCad team has completed the first milestone! The preliminary prototype drawings were due on November 20th and the team had them done just in time. Since the prototype drawings are now completed, the build team came together once more, only to split off again into various partnerships to work on different aspects of the prototype. These groups have the tasks of working on: a Z mock-up with parts, the machine base, resin pool, and projector mounts.

Even though the class is on break from school for the Thanksgiving holiday, the build team is still working hard. We have arranged for a full build team meeting outside of school to continue our work. 

The next milestone is to have the skeleton prototype by December 4th, and at the pace we're working it, shouldn't be a problem! And then, we're up to bat in the big leagues with our first full scale working prototype.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

All Eyes on EYE

Throughout the month of November the Educating Young Engineers (EYE) group has been working to gain funding to optimize the elementary engineering programs that we are establishing.

In early November we were asked by Kara Rosettie to give our “Why LEGO” presentation at the Dorothy Nolan HSA meeting. The presentation was a great success and the parents and teachers were very excited to be piloting the LEGO Club in their school. As a result of the presentation five hundred dollars was granted to the LEGO Club to purchase supplies. The LEGO Club will be staffed by Dorothy Nolan parents and Inventeam club members and we are enthusiastically anticipating the LEGO Club kick off day on December 4. 

Over at Geyser Road Elementary School Mr. Baldwins fourth grade class has started using the LEGO WeDo programming software. Unfortunately, every student in the classroom does not get ideal programming time due to our our shortage of laptop computers. For this reason we completed the Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning grant application and requested for a five thousand dollars so that we can purchase a cart of ten laptops for the students to learn programming on. Next year when elementary engineering becomes more widespread the computers can be used across the building for students to learn programming and design on. 

At Lake Avenue Elementary School we are preparing for the launch of the Project Lead the Way Elementary Pilot. There was an elementary engineering education teacher training day held on November 20. The teachers are very excited to begin engineering education in their classrooms. Now we are just working on scheduling in engineering time into the classroom schedules. Once the schedules are all set up we will be able to begin the pilot!

To supplement grant money and Inventeam funds, we have also been working on EYE fundraisers. Impressions of Saratoga has generously allowed us to sell laser cut ornaments and magnets in their store to help us gain funds. We hope that the funds that we raise from these ornaments will be enough to purchase the Inventeam t-shirts with the EYE Logo so that we all have a uniform shirt to wear at the major fundraiser that we are setting up. This main fundraiser is the Educating Young Engineers Saturday program! We will be hosting an engineering day at the Saratoga Springs High School for students in first through fifth grade. We are planning on having four fun engineering challenges for them to complete throughout the day! In the upcoming weeks we will work to plan this day and get students to sign up! As a start we have created an EYE website with the registration form for parents to sign up their children on and so that parents will be able to find out more about EYE. If you would like to visit our website you can click on the following link! (

Overall, we have had a very busy and successful month and will continue working hard to make the elementary engineering programs have a positive impact on as many students as possible!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Software Progress

Over the past few months,  the software team has made exceptional progress. We have added many features to the user interface such as a file chooser, a custom spin control for touch applications, and a gear generator. The gear generator takes in user parameters and then can determine the exact shape of a gear with various types of teeth. With this feature, we hope this that this will now help to both improve ease of use for basic things and save time for the user. Another great accomplishment of the software team was the completion of a configuration file that will allow the user to change different settings such as the layer depth or the color of background and have these settings saved. The user interface also has a user-friendly bubble menu for selection that can be used directly from the printer, allowing the user to make changes or create a product without switching to a desktop. Finally, our group has also made huge advancements in writing a stepper motor class to control the Z table. With help from the electronics team, the software team has now created a program that can control the stepper motor and the different outputs of the microcontroller. This is just the beginning of a vast range of accomplishments for us, and they can only grow from here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Sticky Situation

Recently, the focus of the materials subset of the build team has been developing an auto-refill system. The team has spent a lot of time testing a peristalsis pump in order to efficiently use left over resin in an automatic refill system. The pump is hooked up to a power supply and by reversing the motor, can easily transfer liquids from one area to another, something ideal for an auto-refill and drainage system. The strongest challenges have come from avoiding the cross contamination of the different resins. In order to use multiple resins, we have to ensure that they do not mix as every resin has a different chemical makeup. This has set up a sticky situation because the resin sticks to almost everything making some equipment hard to clean, especially with the peristalsis pump. Some solutions include using a separate pump for each resin, removing the pump and cleaning it by hand, or lining the tubing of the pump with a nonstick coating such as Sylgard 184. We will be able to make our first complete design for the refill system by the end of the week. We also will start to figure out how we will integrate the system into the rest of the 3D printer over the next week. Another portion of the team has been focused on ordering parts, within our budget, for not only the build team and CAD team prototype but also a separate open source Do it Yourself 3D printer that a few team members are working on outside of the classroom. As more ordered parts of the printer come in we will be able to make the CAD teams design come to life. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fundraising, Food, and Fun

On November 4, we had our first successful fundraiser for the Saratoga Inventeam! This was held at 99 Restaurant who allowed us to have 15% of the proceeds from the bills of people who came in with one of our fliers. Also, to raise extra money, many local companies donated items for raffle baskets that we raffled off that night. It was so fantastic to see local Saratoga business's helping us out in reaching our end goal. Overall, the event was a success and we couldn't thank everyone enough for their help.
Additionally, the marketing team has been researching the possible name of our 3D printer and this will be announced in the next week or so! Stay tuned for the announcement!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Keeping the Current Flowing

In the past month, the electrical team has made terrific progress. All of the parts we ordered have arrived and they have all been working smoothly. With this step now done, we have started some prototyping. In conjunction with the build team, we have built a setup that will allow the stepper motor for the z-table to move. We will be able to run this set up when the programming team creates and debugs the code to move the motor as desired. We have also been working with the build team in order to test the projector and to make sure the design files will allow our two groups to integrate our systems with the physical components. After testing the curing of the resin with the projector a class ago, it has become apparent that the projector has a UV filter inside of it which will need to be taken out before any further progress is made in that area.
In addition to all of this, we will be helping the programming team with their test program of a blinking light that will hopefully allow them learn a bit more about the code library that they will be using.  At this stage of the project, working and collaborating with the other groups is a integral part of our job. Considering our progress so far, the final result should be very impressive.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Coding Bubbles

In order to make three dimensional printing accessible to a wide range of people, the programming team is working on making software that is both powerful and intuitive. In addition to working on a desktop computer, like most 3D printer software, we want our software to be able to run on the touchscreen embedded in our printer. In order to make an application that was touchscreen friendly, we needed to make menu systems beyond those available with the standard GUI frameworks. We developed a “bubble menu” system, similar to those seen on some soda machines. The bubble buttons are aesthetically pleasing, and offer a better target for a finger than the standard rectangular buttons supported by most frameworks. The menus can support up to nine elements, and dynamically rearrange based on the number of elements they contain. Our bubble menu concept gives our software a unique look, while improving customer interaction.

Other features we are pursuing make it easier for a user to print a part. We will give users the option to skip the advanced setup, and print parts with as little effort as possible. One way we will do this is through the use of editable templates. Some parts will have a dynamic layout, in which the user can add and remove lines, and edit specific coordinates. Other parts, such as a gear, can be generated automatically from values such as pitch, bore size, and diameter. Our first template is a gear template, which can generate gear with triangular, rectangular, trapezoidal, or rounded (sprocket) shaped teeth. This gear generator was the focus of much of the past two weeks of work. In order to generate the gear we had to create an algorithm, or set of executable steps, to make a list of points around the gear. The development of a process that could make gears with teeth of various shapes required knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, and computer science.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Beagle Without Bark or Bite

Our electrical team has finally gotten hold of a BeagleBone Black, a type of microcontroller that will act as our machine's Central Processing Unit (CPU). Over the next few months, our work will involve connecting motors and peripheral devices (motors, sensors) to the BeagleBone and syncing them up with each other. This will require research into microcontroller programming, field testing the devices, and a lot of collaboration with the build and software teams. As of now, however, the electrical team will focus on ordering parts and planning their budget/schedule.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

CAD Team, Assemble!

The CAD Team has been making very steady progress. Over the past few classes, we have been discussing more design ideas regarding the automatic refill/ draining system. Seeing as it was an idea that came about very early while brainstorming, we have recently gone back and evaluated its feasibility and whether this would be a beneficial innovation. After discussion with the rest of the Build Team, we decided that we are going to implement it into our design. However, it will have to be scaled back in our initial prototype from being able to store multiple types of resin to just one. Once we are able to successfully create a working automatic refill/ draining system we will add a way to hold more than one resin type. Before the beginning of next class this system will be added to our assembly. As we progress further into the assembly for our 3D printer design we can start to see how each of our individual parts are make up the grand machine, like pieces to a puzzle.

The CAD team also finished working creating parts for the Instructables 3D printer using the .idw files provided by the guide. We are currently assembling this printer on Autodesk Inventor, and once it is completed our task-force in charge of creating this will begin their build phase.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Going LEGO

The past two weeks have been very exciting for the elementary engineering group! On Wednesday October 23, we met with the teachers who are participating in the LEGO engineering at Geyser Road Elementary School and trained them on how to use the LEGO WeDo kits and software. With the teachers trained and equipment ready we kick started the LEGO program on October 30th. The LEGO engineering session went amazingly and the students announced that LEGO Wednesday’s were their new favorite day. With a such a successful start to the LEGO engineering program we are looking forward to starting the LEGO Club at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School. We met with the club organizer, Kara Rossettie to make sure that we were all on the same page with our expectations for the LEGO Club. We are preparing to give a presentation  at the HSA meeting at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School on November 4th to gain funding for the LEGO Club. Once the funding is secured Mrs. Rossettie will be able to purchase the supplies. We are expecting the start date for the LEGO Club to be November 27th.

In addition to getting the elementary engineering programs underway, we have been looking for additional ways to fundraise so that these programs can continue and expand into next year. Over the next week we will be designing laser cut ornaments and magnets to sell at local businesses to raise a fraction of this money as well as applying for grant money from local organizations.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Making Progress

Due for today, each group had to create a progress report detailing their groups accomplishments, research, and challenges. It was interesting to reflect on what one month of work has brought us to. Looking at all the research we have already completed, it isn't hard to tell why we've made the progress we've made. Of course, there is still a long way to go as we tackle all the challenges covered in this month's progress report write-up. Also, the progress report didn't just show our current standing in our work, but it puts the element of time into perspective. Before we know it, it will be the end of the year and we will be presenting a final, working model to the public. However, first things first: more testing and then after thanksgiving break beginning to work on our first functional prototype.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Break it Down and Build it Up

We on the programming team are busy at work building the basis for the program. Part of this includes breaking down existing code for reference. Another 3D printer on the market is the B9Creator - an open source project that uses many of the principals we hope to use in our design. Because it's open source, we're able to see the various methods and algorithms used. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we plan to examine B9Creator's existing code to get an idea of how to proceed and give us an idea for a starting point.
This isn't an easy task, however. As with any large application, there are many lines of code, each integral to the program's operation. Luckily, we've been able to reach out to the author of the original code and have received advice, explanations, and tips. We're nearly done, and are preparing to start writing the code for the basic printer, adding new features and improvements as we go.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Subject to Testing

For the past two classes, the materials team has been testing one of our possible resin options on multiple materials in order to see what material the resin best cures to. We cured the resin using sunlight and tested wood(just for data), aluminum, steel, PVC, PMMA, and Lexan. We found that the resin left behind residue on the non-metallic materials and that on aluminum in particular the resin cured strong, but was removed with relative ease. This has made aluminum our first contender for material to make the z-table from.
We also performed some small tests to see how well new resin cured to resin that had already dried. We found that the resin cured and bonded just fine without any separation on the surface, but had a slight visible internal seam where the new resin bonded with the dry. This should not be a problem when projecting, as each layer will likely be exposed to UV almost simultaneously with the layer adjacent to it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


In recent activities, the marketing team has continued it's research on 3D Printers, and started finding consumer feedback from 3D printer users. In the past, a lawsuit had been found regarding a patent issue, and because the patent doesn't expire for three more years, it has been a high priority to find a patent lawyer who could assist in confirming that our product would not interfere with any patents and will work pro-bono. We have contacted a few companies and are going to continue researching. The next task the marketing team is focusing on is, of course, the most important - finding a product name. For the time being, it will remain a secret, but stay tuned for the announcement. in the next few weeks, the marketing team will focus it's efforts on gaining more consumer feedback and searching for mentors for each individual group, so any problems that we run into, there will be someone to answer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is Two Better than One?

Today in class we debated and discussed the pros and cons of having two projectors in the machine versus one. Having two projectors would set our machine apart from any other machine and would double the build space available for the user. However, by doing this, we would also be putting the programming team in over their heads with having to convert and rewrite all the necessary algorithms to project the image. Also, we run the risk of having the projector mash up to be even one pixel off, ruining the whole printed file. From the hardware and materials standpoint, more resin would also have to be used in order to cover the surface area of a larger resin pool.
One the other hand, using only one projector would essentially be recreating the machines on the market already. The only thing that would potentially set our machine apart are a bunch of small software and hardware features. Such features could include a more user compatible interface, templates for quick printing, a drainage system, a self contained final curing compartment, and many more things. Having only one projector you are automatically making your build area smaller and the machine would become desktop size, a pro for many people. What we are left to think with though, are these features any reason to buy our printer over any other?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Basic Building Blocks, Legos

Over the past two weeks the Elementary Engineering group has been working on creating mock lessons to demonstrate to teachers how engineering can be integrated with common core standards. The mock lessons that we are creating are for the fourth grade lego pilot classroom at  Geyser Road  Elementary School. We have assessed the fourth grade curriculum and have planned two pilot lessons. One lesson integrates English and Engineering. This activity includes reading a play, writing an alternate ending, and then creating a Lego Machine that is able to lift objects into trees. The second activity encompasses Math and Engineering. In this activity, students will follow a tutorial to make a “smart spinner.” They will then experiment with various motor powers and see how the motor power affects the time the object spends spinning. After this using graphing skills and their ability to multiply and divide they are able to draw conclusions from their experiment. Within the next two weeks, we are also planning a meeting with the Lego Pilot Program teachers to introduce them to the Lego Pilot technology and walk them through our Lego Lessons.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

User Friendly

The software team has completed some objectives, and we are now looking through code of an existing open source project to see if there is anything we can improve on, and researching how we can get stepper motors to work with our printer . We are also making a custom user interface that is designed for touch screen. The image seen to the right is the interface we have been designing, using circle buttons to make the the objects on the interface more accessible to the average user.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Divide and Conquer

LeftThe build team has been split up into two groups to help maximize the efficiency of our work. The first group is dedicated to creating a prototype of our printer on Autodesk Inventor. The second group is in charge of figuring out the actual materials needed for the machine and then purchasing them. The materials team has just purchased a projector to test, some resin, Z table material, and Sylgard 184 (a nonstick coating substance). Once we acquire all the materials, we will want to test curing different resins on different materials. Also, we will want to test the projector and explore the possibilities of a stationary dual projector system. Using some open source material, the three teams will also consider combining forces to create an auto calibration system for the projector. We hope to have all these items tested by mid November at the very latest so that way after the team gets back from eating turkey and pie to their hearts content, we can get working on the first real prototype.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Elementary!

A chronic shortage of engineering students threatens America’s role as one of the world’s leading innovators. Without bright young minds preparing to solve the problems of tomorrow, our country is left without a diverse group of critical thinkers to resolve pressing issues. In addition, countries such as China and India have far surpassed the quality (engineers with advanced degrees and patents) and volume of engineers that America produces. With education reforms and new test oriented standards, creative thinking and problem solving are becoming less focused on in the classroom, further impeding the creation of American engineers.

Our solution to this pressing problem is to start engineering education in elementary school. When children are ages five to nine their brains are still rapidly developing. Everything they do is new and exciting and they are constantly exploring and problem solving without even realizing it. Similar to the ease at which young children can learn a second language, engineering skills are best taught at a young age. In a way, children are engineering informally all the time by playing with blocks or Legos. By encouraging these explorations in elementary school, we can keep students’ interests’ alive. Describing their activities as "engineering" when they are engaged in the natural design process can help kids develop positive associations with engineering, and increase their desire to pursue such activities in the future. In addition, starting in the lower grades will help level the playing field for minority students who have historically been underrepresented in engineering. Above all, engineering at the elementary level will lay a foundation for all students in important subject areas, and help to generate the next generation of problem solvers and world leaders.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Evaluating the Market

The marketing team is working hard on researching and understanding pros and cons of certain features of the B9 creator and Formlabs Form 1 machine. Through the use of forums, we can see what current users are boasting about as well as added features they wish the printer could have. This information allows the build team, especially, to have a better understanding of what should be included in our printer. Also, the marketing team is researching the lowest cost of the necessities of the project, such as the actual DLP projector we will need to use in the machine. In the near future, the marketing team will be contacting individuals to obtain feedback on 3D printing to find out what they want, what the need, and what they can live without.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Electronic Update

The electrical team has just started working on the electronics subsystem of the printer.  As the electronics team, we have to work closely with the build and programming team to make sure our system will integrate with both the hardware and software designs.  We’ve already created a list of constraints and goals for our part of the final design, as well as a list of major parts that we have to order and use in the final product.  We also are beginning to look at how everything is going to work together, and we will soon be making a diagram to show data and current transfer throughout the product.  Since we all have a little bit of electronics experience, we are going to start looking at how the microcontrollers work, and we will be doing some research to find out how the system is going to work. On a progress note, today in class, we tested the projector successfully and will be taking steps from there.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Behind the Scenes in the Machine

The software team is currently researching the software and computer chip we will use to build the prototype. We are looking at different graphics libraries to use and are planning to reverse engineer the rapid prototyping software. The computer chip we plan on ordering is the BeagleBone Black, which runs on Linux. For the project, it seems that most of the programming will be in python, a coding language. As a form of communicating outside of the classroom, we are using are using a website called to organize our work. So far, this system seems to be working really well for the group.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scaling Down

One of the large parts we want to keep in mind for the printer is the size of the machine. We need to make it a reasonable size to increase the marketability of it as a product the average consumer could have. Our target is to keep the length of the printer under 1.5 ft. We have found a smaller DLP projector to use and will not be using a mirror system to project the image onto the resin which will also scale down the size. Knowing these size constraints will play out to be very important during the course of the building of the machine. This project is a case of bigger is not necessarily better.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Build Board

To help stay organized throughout the course of the year, the build team has set up two different "Build Boards" to help keep us on track. The first board is strictly for any ideas regarding the project. The ideas can be anything under the sun and will stay on the board for us to keep in mind during the year. Currently our ideas include little things about what we might want the machine to be able to do. The next board is a "to-do" list which will help monitor our progress. The first column in this four column set up is for the facts and constraints we need to consider before completing any task. The next column is a list of what we need to do. As we begin working on something, the post it note in the to do section gets moved to the in progress section, and finally to the completed section. The other teams will also come up with similar methods to this in order to track their project and stay organized.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A New Face for a New Year

When the blog is updated with class news tomorrow, it be d├ębuting a new look! After some html tweaking, the class will review a new, sleeker blog design in class. Things to check out on the new blog page will be student bios, a photo gallery, a blog search bar, and a front page photo slide show!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A 3D World in the Making

Today, our project was set in stone. For the 2013-2014 school year, the whole class will be pursuing a DLP 3D Printer project.  Using open source code and the idea of the already created Formlabs 3D printer, we feel that with our time and resources we can create something even more accessible and user friendly. How we do this is yet to be determined, but with 19 brilliant and dedicated minds working on this, there is sure to be success.
We have been divided into four different groups within this project: Build/Design, Software, Electronics, and Marketing. Many people in the class have some crossover as to what group they want to be in, so we will move people as resources dictate. Having these sub groups will help to keep everyone busy at all times; however, that shouldn't be too hard though given our task Each team is currently brainstorming and looking into ideas for them to consider during their initial planning and design phase. No one wants to jump into this pool of resin head first!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All or Nothing

Even after our decision making survey, we as a class are still not entirely sure where we stand for this year's projects. Today, we were presented with 3 options: to go with a full scale rapid prototyping interface and even market it out to companies, to go with the safer seatbelt and the crutch, or take these three projects and do them all but at a much smaller scale. We spent our time together today debating the pros and cons of each option. The largest point brought up was will a project be more or less effective with 20 people working on it? Regarding the issue of dissatisfaction, if 4 people do not want to work on this large group project, you have 20% of the group who may not be giving the project their all. We came to the conclusion that it wouldn't be the worst scenario and there are other options available for such cases (such as the already live elementary engineering project). Although the risk of having people not working is potentially higher with a larger group, one also receives the benefit of more people helping out and spreading around the work load. It then becomes a matter of efficiently dividing up the work into structured sections so all can stay organized and everyone can have a job. As an EDD class, our goal is to create something innovative and have a product to show for our work at the end of the year; if that goal is reached using the whole class focusing their efforts into one project, the benefit should outweigh the cost.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Election Day

Today in class we finished presenting feasibility reports on the remaining projects. We saw that in every project, the most variation came in the estimated project prices. Prices have ranged realistically on the projects from about $1,000-$5,000. Also we have seen that certain projects entail a greater degree of risk than others. As a class, we have to take all these factors into account and consider if the project is fit for our EDD classroom. A vote got sent out to the class for each person to pick their top two projects and explain why they chose them and what skills they could possibly bring to the project. The votes are now in and are being tallied, results to come!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Beginning of Something Really Excellent

With the beginning of a new year, it is time to welcome in a new set of innovative minds. The class of 2014 is one of the largest that EDD has seen to date with 22 students involved. For this year, Jay Murray took the position of Project Manager and will be making sure everything gets done in a timely and orderly fashion. For today's class, Jay had us present a feasibility report of someone else's project. From there, it is the class's job to submit their votes and pick the projects that we work on for the year. The top ten projects that we will now be selecting from include: a safer seatbelt, a GPS watch, a medical/athletic brace, an elementary engineering education program, a rapid prototyping interface, a more comfortable crutch, a fuel exhaust recovery system, a better voice recognition software, an automatic pill dispenser, and an electronic conservation system. All of these projects would be fun to pursue, but the question remains, which ones will the class choose?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The day we prepared for all year has finally arrived: presentation day!  It took many classes to get ready to present in front of our panel and I am happy to report the First Wave group executed perfectly. The panel was impressed by our ability to pick sewing, something we didn’t know what to do, and produce such professional looking bags. They were also impressed by our ski to bag attachment method. Overall I am extremely proud of the First Wave group in how even though not all of us were Nordic skiers, we all worked together and worked hard to make this bag that will change the Nordic industry.

The Pivo Never Rests

The three groups presented our work to a panel of engineers and parents. Our group had some minor technical difficulties, but managed to successfully share our concept and execution. We received positive responses from the audience with only minor suggestions on how to make the armrest more durable for long-term use. Our final prototype held up quite well during our demonstration and fit into both sides of the wheelchair without any problems. We will soon analyze their suggestions and figure out exactly what we need to work on before we approach the manufacturing companies.