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There were post-its everywhere…

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.

So, I actually gotta work on that right now…ttyl!

Dannah Almasco ’10

Mechanical Engineering and Business, Economics & Management, Class of 2010

Dannah is a senior in Fleming House, originally from San Diego, CA. She is a tour guide, a student reader for the freshman admissions committee, and a food critic for the campus newspaper. A member of the Caltech Dance Troupe, Dannah also practices yoga and aerobics. After graduating from Caltech, Dannah plans to enter the work industry; she has worked at the Caltech Biological Imaging Center and has had internships with Boeing in Los Angeles and Schlumberger in Houston, TX (see previous Caltech blog, “Adventures in Internships”). Her second blog “Class in Session: E/ME 105” discussed her experience in an engineering course that involved designing for (and traveling to!) the developing world of Guatemala. Read her latest blog: “Sweet Life of a Second Term Senior” to see how she keeps busy with her senior thesis and extracurricular activities.