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Catch-Up with Nathan and Victoria: Chapter III

Nathan Hall

Well, that was cathartic. Turns out blogging is really excellent for morale, especially when I can take events that have been weighing heavily on my long-term memory (I do use that memory for class and whatnot) and put them in the electronic memory bank known as Inside ‘Dores. That came out more Star Wars-ish than intended, but we’ll roll with it.

This chapter of the Catch-Up Chronicles is dedicated to engineering: Class-related and otherwise. After last semester’s Mechatronics project ended up being such a blast, I assumed college was all downhill from then on, but I’ve had the chance to embark on a few new (very different!) projects of sorts since the semester began. So, without further ado:

Search and Rescue

As the semester draws near its conclusion, the final report for my project in Machine Analysis and Design does the same. Based on the numerous (read: bajillions of) design considerations and analysis techniques we’ve covered over the course of the semester, we’ve been meticulously designing and modeling a search and rescue robot based on a number of loose parameters for size, weight, and functionality. While this project is generally right up the alley of a class full of mechanical engineers-to-be, here’s the kicker: the level of detail required in the design/analysis is such that the thread pitch and head shape of the bolts are necessary considerations. More plainly, designing the robot’s structure and moving parts takes a painstaking attention to detail. This, of course, is the realm of the engineer, but it’s not particularly glamorous, even less so at the wee hours of the morning in the CAD lab.

Behold, the CREO model for my robot's drive system. Rather impressive when you aren't much of a CAD pro!

The Pushup Board

Beginning last year, Army ROTC has sent a “Pushup Club” to each home football game to do pushups after each Vanderbilt score. The original pushup board (on which the push-up-er is elevated, which I didn’t mention!) was a quick wooden effort, suitable for the job but not structurally sustainable. The task fell to me, then, to design and produce a new pushup board! After plenty of CAD-ing, professor-consulting, and procrastinating planning, we ended up with a last-minute construction push during the week before the last home game of the season. Between buying metal tubing, choosing fasteners, designing and requesting specific fabrication and surface treating the board, I got to immediately put my machine analysis skills into practice!

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