Friday, August 8, 2014

high school engineering camp for young women

This week Adream and I invited a group of high school aged young women that were a part of an Engineering Summer Camp at UWM to visit the DCRL for a four hour session on building solar rechargeable reading lights. The light are going to be given to children in a mountain region of Guatemala that is off the grid. Adream started our four hour Monday session with a lecture on design and then I did a crash course in Rhino, 123D Make, and the laser cutter. The camp organizer, Chris, had supper catered into the lab and then the students worked on designing a reading light. The teams were given a LED flashlight to use as well as a small battery pack, a solar panel and a diode. Adream and I both teamed up with our own groups and started work on designing enclosures for their components. My group was interested in light refraction so they designed a series of shades that were movable that would allow them to refract the light coming from the LED. The bottom section of the light contained all of the electrical components and could be removed for recharging and placed in a window while the light was still being used inside. With only two hours to really design and troubleshoot, we had to work fast. I recommended removable interior panels that formed a sort of faceted effect on the interior of the upper and lower shades. Local communities could source metals, mirrors, reflective materials, etc. for these reflective panels. We used polished metal in our version. The students left for the night and then came back to the DCRL for a Thursday morning session from 10 to noon to start creating their design and worked on assembly. I had printed their Rhino designed components the night before and had them waiting for the group when they came in. My group worked on polishing aluminum, cutting down the slider rods, assembling and soldering the components and doing a lot of fitting and finishing. They worked very hard as a team to complete this lamp. My group came back this morning (Friday) to pick up a part that was still printing yesterday when they left and to complete the assembly. They ran out of time to create their solar panel mount, but everything works; not bad for a total time of 8 hours of fabrication. My team really rocked and I would be more than happy to have any of these young women work in my lab if they happen to choose UWM for their education. They left me a very kind message and a wooden crane. The other groups did very well also and I look forward to seeing their finished designs at a presentation this afternoon.

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