Crunch Time: The Last Stretch

          Well, it's that time of year again. Crunch time. For me, the crunch is quite literal. I am building a bridge out of spaghetti. When everything starts breaking down into late nights of gluing strands of spaghetti together to make compression members for my bridge, trying to hit that high A note in PowerChords on minimal sleep, designing and redesigning a Rubik's Cube that can solve itself, it can get people pretty down in the dumps, it can make people lose confidence in themselves.

Bridge Truss Members

           Truss Compression members for a spaghetti bridge design project in Mechanics of Solids and Structures

          All of that in mind, it's tough. I'm tired. I know I over committed this semester. But I can't wait. Because the work pays off. After everything that I'm going through, after all of the hard work, the accomplishment that follows rivals no other feeling. The feeling of crossing the finish line in a race you thought you couldn't win. I know that at the end of all of this, I will have conquered some truly challenging tasks, things that I never thought that I would be able to do, and that makes everything worth it. Because instead of banging my head against a textbook late at night, cramming for a test which I'll probably forget all about, I am doing things that I love, no matter how much time I spend doing them. I am being the creative and innovative person that I want to be, instead of the bogged down, stressed out student with too many tests to study for.

Robox CubeThe external view of a self-solving Rubik's Cube I am designing, in which a user can pick it up, scramble it, and watch as it unscrambles itself.

          I just came back from a late night of designing and assembling a bridge made out of spaghetti. By Monday, I will have finished the full design for a self-solving Rubik's Cube that someone can pick up, scramble, and put down just to watch as it solves itself. I am neck deep in post-its, working to design a collaboration space for recreational mathematicians. In Olin's Robotic Sailing team, we are pushing through some of the final steps it takes to complete our boat, and every member of the team is giving it more than they've got.

Olin Robotic SailingThe Robotic Sailing Team's boat from last year: Blackbody Radiation

          No matter how late I stay up, I can't wait. I can't wait until I have the memory of picking up the Rubik's Cube I designed, scrambling it, and watching it work. I can't wait until I watch the bridge I built out of spaghetti spectacularly fail under the load I worked to calculate. I can't wait to treasure the moment when I help put this year's robotic sailboat in the water, push it off, and watch it sail off with a mind of its own. Even though these memories haven't happened yet, these moments are the ones that affirm my passion and love for engineering, innovation, and creativity. These are moments I know I will treasure because I helped make the impossible possible.

-Alex

Posted in: Class of 2016