Thursday, November 20, 2014

Group Two has Picked a Project

Our EDD class split into two groups.  One group has worked on a Nitinol engine, and my group has worked on several other several other ideas.  Group 2, consisting of Chris Engborg, Shibo Jiang, Jordan Klapp and Rob Spzak  initially focused on the concept of building an RFID card.  The two main thoughts were to either make the card store general information such as name, address, phone number, medical info ect.  The other option, would have been to build a card for use in schools that preform a variety of different tasks such as checking out library books, preforming lunch transactions and keeping track of attendance.  To look farther into this, we each downloaded Netbeans, a program that codes with databases.  After working with the program we found we were left with more questions than answers.  We also wondered whether or not there would be a market for such a technology.

  Putting this idea to the side, we started brainstorming other topics.  We considered designing a gps that could be mounted on your bike and powered by pedaling.  Unfortunately, pedal powered charging devices already exist, and even have battery storage.

  We then proceeded to look further into a few more ideas.  We wanted to focus on things that could be useful in everyday life, and have a broad market.  One idea was an easy way to remove lint from a hairdryer.  Another potential project might be, a dryer machine that tests for dampness, drying clothes perfectly and fully. 
Finally, we have come up with two ideas we will decide between, to be our final project.  The first idea, is an electric bicycle that would use some of the energy from pedaling and regenerative braking to charge a battery that would be attached to a motor, allowing the rider to get an extra speed boost when riding up hills or just when it was convenient.  Our other idea was some sort of box that, once the user inputted the settings, would be able to grow a variety of plants automatically.  The user would have to add soil and a seed to the device and they would need to regularly fill up a water reservoir.  This idea will allow people to grow produce organically in their own home at any time of the year regardless of the season. 
As of today, we decided to pursue the plant growing box as our project for the year.  It will present a unique challenge with the pairing of electronic elements to various mechanical elements of the system.  We eagerly accept the challenge and are ready to get to work.


EYE Founders Have Smoothly Passed the Torch

In the past few weeks, EYE has effectively launched the first sessions of the second year of Dorothy Nolan’s LEGO Club and has continued to support Division Street’s STEM Club. As the December 6th Saturday “Engineering Athletics” Program approaches, we have continued to plan and finalize arrangements with the local community. With the event already full, we expect to have a successful outcome. The students are very excited to participate and the parents and teachers are eager to make this event a special one. Shenendehowa currently is being aided by EYE for their Saturday Program in January and EYE is also helping Ballard Elementary school plan their upcoming Saturday Program on December 13th. Our future schedule includes planning for our 2015 Saturday Programs and continuing to expand and aid schools with Saturday Programs and LEGO Clubs. We are also planning to start the process of becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and continue to excite the young engineers of the future!

Nitinol Progress

 We are in the process of brainstorming specific applications for the engine. Some ideas include using the engine in a car to capture waste heat from the car’s engine, and capturing waste heat from industrial ovens.  We have been modeling different engines on Autodesk Inventor and picked one to prototype. We dimensioned the pieces to fit size and functionality parameters. We started building the prototype from various materials, including plastic, wood and metal.  The pieces were  cut using the laser cutter, ensuring  measurements are precise.  An initial prototype would serve to produce much needed data on potential efficiency and load bearing capabilities for Nitinol engines.  After a short time, it became evident that the materials we chose for the prototype were inadequate.  Flimsy plastic parts left too much room for error.  We decided to build a more professionalized prototype, sacrificing time and energy for a more quality product.  This would hopefully have been worthwhile, making our lives easier during testing, and making our data more accurate.  We came up with more potential sturdier adaptations of our design, each with varying levels of complexity.  Unfortunately, after reaching out to professionals in the Nitinol community, we came to find our initial interpretation of the patent was inaccurate.   Nick, our project manager has found a credible collection of research information.  Today in class he gave our group a PowerPoint presentation, bringing everyone up to speed on some more complex Nitinol concepts.  The source discusses many heat engine designs in depth, including the one we prototyped. After finding our prototype to be incorrectly designed, we regroup, continue to do more research, and for now we have put the prototype on the backburner.      

EDD Off to a Strong Start

The year is off to a great start in EDD, the class has gone through a series of steps necessary in bringing about the beginnings of a successful project.  Students have voted, electing their classmates to reside over certain responsibilities for the class.  Among these positions are treasurer, project manager, blog coordinator, and fundraising coordinator.  Nick Abate has been elected project manager, Emily Verhag will be our treasurer and Eric Von Alman will be overseeing fundraising.  After conducting elections, we presented and researched the feasibility of ideas initially brought into the class as part of EDD's application requirement.  After some deliberation, the class settled on the design of a Nitinol Heat Engine. Nitinol is a Nickel-Titanium alloy, with super elastic and shape memory properties. \These properties may be exploited, wherever a temperature differential is present in order to convert waste heat into electrical energy.  Since making the decision to go with Nitinol, the class has split into thirds.  While one group will pursue Nitinol and another will continue EYE, the last is still contemplating different ideas.  Serious consideration has been given to innovations in the way of RFID technology, but the group is keeping their minds open to other ideas.