Just got out of E/ME 105 which meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30-4pm. Today we had some groups (including mine) present on their project goals and term objectives.
The project I am working on with my team for the term is redesigning a honey centrifuge for some beekeepers in Guatemala so that they can produce more amounts of honey and better quality honey. In addition to improving the prototype, we will also focus on creating a business plan/model that will help them sell their product to an expanded market.
When I went to Guatemala this past summer, I had initially begun work on a vertical farming project with my partner in Landivar, Sophy. After a few days of visiting workshops, we realized that we had been unsuccessful in gathering information sufficient enough to start a project and then agreed to go in a different direction. We found that there was not a need or use for a vertical farming solution and that we would be better off if we found another project. So that is how we ended up switching to this wonderful and exciting project–the HONEY CENTRIFUGE!
Now, being back in Pasadena, my group consists of Team Leader Angie (who is an art center student), Cole (a new transfer Caltech student), Sophy and Chepo (the Landivar students who we video conference/skype with) and myself. In addition to class, we meet once a week to discuss and go over assignments and make progress on our redesigning process.
This past weekend, we had a heavy-duty 3-hour brainstorming session. We first started out by throwing out all the ideas we had on how to improve the centrifuge and process, concepts we wanted to keep in mind and things we wanted to completely change. We ended up with about 70 or so post-its saying things like: hand-crank system, ergonomics, brake system, cone filter, etc etc. We stuck all of the post-its on the whiteboard and began grouping them together into related sections.
From that, we kept condensing the list and specifying the process name that would encompass all the points under the group. The main objective was to get all our ideas out, and then create specific points that we want our redesign to touch upon. From 70 random post-its we came up with 7 basic design principles: the functional features that needed to be added, simplicity/user friendly, materials, human factors, upkeep, safety and aesthetics.
As an engineer I have definitely done brainstorming sessions to better focus my design process. However, I have never had this kind of experience doing such an elaborate “process tree” as Angie calls it. This is what I love about working with other students from the Art Center and Landivar. I feel like I have learned so much about how they think as designers and industrial engineers. This activity took a long time but really put in perspective what we really want to accomplish with the centrifuge. Next our individual assignment over the next week is to come up with 20 sketches that illustrate different ideas on how to include the points from our brainstorm.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.