First-Year Engineering Showcase at Northeastern London
First-year engineering students at Northeastern University London showed off their hard work this semester with a robot exhibition in the campus hub. In the fall, they built simpler robots to gain skills and prepare them for more complex projects. In the spring, their projects are done in teams of 3, where the team selects a problem they are interested in, formulates a problem statement, and works together to design and build a prototype solution using the skills gained, and researching where needed on their specific design needs. They use the maker space designed and set up in London, including 3D printers, and a myriad of tools and materials. They use the graphics and programming learned to design parts, build devices, and program robots to function. They worked very hard over the semester to complete these projects so that there were working robots (on a prototype scale) for every team, we are extremely proud of the results.
The projects vary from items that solve a problem they face (watering plants, dust in their rooms, cooking aids) to a societal problem (deforestation, aiding the disabled, reducing a carbon footprint). One team used a wind tunnel and toy car to display how the attachments they designed affect the aerodynamics of a moving vehicle, allowing them to be made smaller and run more efficiently.
With accessibility in mind, one team had their prototype strapped to their chests and exhibited how their robot announced ‘person’ as you walked up to it, able to alert the visually impaired to what’s in front of them. A robot that rehabilitates the arm of a person who has suffered a stroke was designed with ideas of how to speed up recovery processes and reduce the workload for physiotherapists.
Increasing environmental concerns inspired our students’ work, with one robot that could efficiently plant seeds in areas devastated by deforestation, and as global warming increases the frequency and intensity of flooding, one team has devised a robot able to keep cars from floating away and causing more damage.
This showcase mirrors the much larger first-year showcase held in Boston for Cornerstone projects. This has been a very successful year for these first-year engineers and their instructor, both in accomplishing some great engineering learning and enjoying the great city of London.