Tag: engineering


In March 2010 I took part in a ceremony that all engineers go through once they complete their undergraduate degree in Canada. Called the “Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer“, it serves as a basis for remembering what engineering stands for and how an engineer’s work affects the public. It was written by Rudyard Kipling in the early 20th century to remind engineers of the obligation they have to work that is safe, efficient and ethical. During the ceremony, each graduating member is given a ring made of stainless steel or iron that is worn on the pinky finger of the dominant hand. This is to serve as a constant reminder of this obligation.

It was an interesting ceremony, to say the least, and is one that I will remember for a long time. It was a very nice way to both prepare for a future career and to commemorate the last 4 years of studying. Officially, in June I will receive my degree in Mechanical Engineering, and after registering with Professional Engineers of Ontario, I will be an EIT, or engineer in training. This means that I can begin to work under a fully licensed Professional Engineer and collect experience that is required to receive P.Eng certification.

Since jobs don’t come overnight, and I’d like to enjoy the summer a little bit, right now I’m not focusing that intently on my full-time job search. Instead, I’m using some of the skills I picked up during high school and university related to website development. Right now I’ve joined a site called oDesk.com that connects people looking for results with providers of services. So far I’ve been able to help a few people around the world by building some WordPress plugins to improve their site’s functionality. These include one to display popular tags in the last few posts and another that gives users the ability to vote on photos displayed on posts. Additionally, I’m also working on a number of other websites for friends and family. I currently have about 4 projects of various sizes and complexities ongoing, and most use WordPress as a backend so I’m getting pretty comfortable creating themes, plugins, administration panel pages and interacting with the WP database. Check out www.openticket.ca for the latest project to start up.

More related to engineering, I’m also spending time contributing to our university’s Formula SAE team. As a member of the drivetrain team, I did some work looking at the best differential, sprocket, half shaft and spindle combination to get the most power out of our Yamaha R6 engine. I even got to do some design work, using SolidWorks to create a 3D model of a specific part, test it with the simulation software and then have it sent out to be machined on a CNC mill. It’s very cool to see something built inside a computer become a real part.

In May, the team took the car to Michigan International Speedway where we participated in Formula SAE Michigan 2010, a competition between universities all over the world to see who can design, build and market the more cost effective and highest performing race car. Unfortunately the team ran into some scheduling issues during the school year, when students — rightly so — focused on school work rather than building. Since this is the first of 3 competitions during the summer (I’m hoping to get to California and England later), we took what was built on the car and learned as much as possible. It was very interesting to see what the other teams had done with their time and budgets.

With all that in mind, it’s easy to see why my last post here was a few months ago. I hope to write more in the coming weeks, as I will hopefully have some time to work on projects that can be shared. Engineering is a challenging field of study, but it is very rewarding in both education and contribution to society. Finishing my program and learning more outside of school has helped me realize that I’m in the right field and that the sky isn’t even the limit.

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After choosing a mechatronics option in my final year of mechanical engineering, I’ve gotten more interested in electronics and computer integration. Sure, I’ve done programming in the past (and present) but there is something very satisfying about writing code on a screen and having it perform an action in the real world. With that in mind, I ordered myself an Arduino microcontroller from Adafruit and have spent the last few weeks learning the ins and outs of some of the included components. So far I’ve hooked up some LEDs, a DC motor and a servo motor to the breadboard and watched them blink and spin. The kit contains bonus material, but you can also get just the board to save some money. It includes components like red and green LEDs, resistors, transistors, jumpers, and the previously mentioned DC and servo motors. Programming the board requires very straight forward C language knowledge. There are dozens, perhaps even hundreds of tutorials online to program nearly all functions of the board itself.

What is it used for?

You may be wondering what the real purpose of the board is, but there is no definite answer to that. In reality, Arduino, being an open source hardware project, has been used in numerous projects seen around the web. Any component that can be plugged into one of the pins can be controlled, which means people have used it to create secret knock opening doors, a radio controlled lawnmower, even a laser harp. This only scratches the surface. My plans, without giving too much away, include building a panoramic camera mount and adding radio controls to household/garage items (project details will be here when they are completed). If you have any interest at all in electronics, I suggest picking one up and learning about it.

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Blog posts have been hard to come by in the last few weeks, mostly because I’ve been heavily involved in school. Since the year is done, I’m hoping to get more posts to the site, mostly from a few projects I’m hoping to work on.

In case you’re interested in what courses are involved in becoming schooled in the art of Mechanical Engineering, here are the courses I’ve had to take over 3 years of school.

Semester 1

Calculus 1
Linear Algebra
Physics 1
Computer Programming
Chemistry

Semester 2

Calculus 2
Physics 2
Physics 3
Engineering Design
Materials Science 1

Semester 3

Communications
Dynamics
Manufacturing 1
Statics and Mechanics of Materials
Materials Science 2

Semester 4

Engineering Economics
Thermodynamics 1
Mechanics of Machines
Stress Analysis
Manufacturing 2
Numerical Analysis

Semester 5

Thermodynamics 2
Fluid Mechanics 1
Mechanics of Machines
Electric Circuits
Mechanics of Deformable Bodies
Statistics

Semester 6

Fluid Mechanics 2
Heat Transfer
Electric Circuits 2
Controls
Finite Element Analysis

These classes mostly deal with math, physics, material selection, and fluid behaviour. In the three years, not much time was spent designing actual products, so I hope we do more of that in fourth year.

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