Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Keys, Hands, and MagLev Cars: The 2015-16 EDD Class Begins

The school year has started and the 2015-16 Engineering Design and Development class is getting down to business. At last count there are 21 students in the class. We elected Max Pawlick as Project Manager, Reece Napierski as Chief Financial Officer, and Eli Fisher, myself, as Public Relations Officer. Mr. Gallagher also appointed Andrew deVries to help the rest of the class with our collaboration software, Central Desktop. We have seen a huge array of project ideas presented with costs ranging from a few dollars per unit to several thousand. Some of the most popular ideas include:
  • An electronic contact-chip based key that could be stored and handled like a regular mechanical one, presented by Paul Harrington.
  • Applying a MagLev system to personal automobiles and the existing road network. If done as presented, this would be a more research-based project than what has been typical for EDD. It was presented by Perrin Jones and Kaitlyn O'Donnell.
  • A system of sensors that would provide information about the spaces available in a parking lot or garage, presented by Lucas Beitzel.
Other technically interesting ideas that did not receive as many votes included a store checkout system based on millimeter wave detection and an autonomous sailing system for catamarans.

Interestingly, Mr. Gallagher brought forth another idea to the class that he received from a former EDD student. He introduced us to an organization called Enable that 3D-prints prosthetic hands for people who can't afford more expensive versions of them through a worldwide network of volunteers. Our EDD class would join this network and work on improving the design of the prosthetics while also producing prosthetics using our 3D printer. Most students were enthusiastic about this idea. However, Mr. Gallagher suggested that the class should consider making this our only project, and some students objected to devoting the entire class to this single project. It seems that we will most likely undertake the Enable project, but it remains to be seen whether the class will work on other projects as well and what those projects might be.