Humanoids and Harleys: Senior Year

Erika Tsutsumi '14

It's been a semester or so since I wrote a blog post- but now I have handy iCals to remind me that blogs exist (thanks admissions!). Anyway, I am now a senior in college. It's only slightly terrifying- but whatever, I deal with it by doing super awesome projects. This year I'm on the Harley-Davidson SCOPE team (I can't tell you anything about the project, but, motorcycles!) I'm also working on a 2.5' tall humanoid robot named Jimmy that was dreamed up by a futurist at Intel.


You can see a news clip about it here:


The out of context background video is actually this semester's Mechanical Design class- and the back of my head has now been on national television! MechDesign is a really awesome class- the theme changes every year or so, and this time, it's the first iteration of Jimmy. Basically, we split into groups and each group designs a joint. The NINJA (that's a course assistant, to the outside world) then gets to put everything together!


There's another design path we're taking for this humanoid robot as well- me and 2 other people are working on a separate version, based on the concept of passive dynamic walking. What that essentially means is that you can build a machine, put it on top of a ramp, and it will walk down unaided. If you design a humanoid robot to do that, then stick a motor in the hip and put it on flat ground, theoretically, it'll walk more or less like a human.


We're doing a lot of simulation work at the moment- basically, I spend lots of time yelling encouragement at my computer and hoping my display drivers don't crash again. (yay senior laptops!) We'll be working on this for the year, and then 2 of us will graduate- but the project will continue, and future generations of Oliners will make it even better (and half a foot taller, and several thousand dollars cheaper, and it'll be able to fly. I'm only exaggerating a bit.)


Also worth mentioning- the student-run Fall Startup Career Fair was last week! We had more than 30 companies, which was quite a turnout. In attendance were companies that former Olin students had started, and hardware and software startups of all kinds, including the awesome medical device startup I've been working for since May, Lantos Technology.


In the 4 years I've been here, the startup career fair has morphed from a small event with ~10 software companies, to an event as large as the general career fair (where companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook send the Olin alums back to campus to hang out, hand out swag, and talk to people.) It's been great to be involved in the organization of the event and to see it grow so much. 

Posted in: Class of 2014