Learning by Doing (Summer Edition)

Ahoy hoy!

 
I've been at Olin for two weeks (to the day!) so far this summer, so I figured I should start getting you guys up to speed before summer disappears again. 
 
The main reason I'm here is research: Olin is a great place to do research because the Professors really leave it up to you to get things done. Sure, they're there for help, but you have to ask for it. Also, Olin will provide free housing on top of a handsome salary. My research is on aeroelastic vibrational energy recovery. Impressive title, right? It's a slightly unusual research project because instead of continuing a previous project or starting entirely from scratch, I'm taking two pre-existing projects and (literally) gluing them together. 
 
One project is aeroelastic flutter. This is flutter. Generally not a good thing. Several students at Olin have worked on building a jig that works with our wind tunnel to replicate flutter.
flutter_jig
 
The other project is vibrational energy harvesting. I'll spare the physics lecture, but the underlying principal is that a magnet moving through a coil of wire generates electrical current. So students made a little energy harvester that works like a shock absorber, but with magnets instead of springs.
harvester diagram
Can you see where this is going? My project is to see if the vibration caused by a fluttering wing can create power. It's a neat idea because fluttering can occur at quite low speeds and doesn't require huge structures like that of wind turbines. Further more, there are hardly any moving parts, so maintenance isn't an issue like it is on traditional wind turbines.
 
In addition to all that, I am acting director of the Foundry and involved with one of our Summer Ventures. The Ventures Program gives people the opportunity to use the Foundry space as a summer incubator for entrepreneurial projects. Projects this year include software developing, designing a board game, and building a kinetic sculpture (I'm on that last one). It's a great chance to try your hand at entrepreneurial work, but with an Olin-provided safety net. 
 
And of course I'm also working for the Olinsider to let you know what Olin summer life is like. I'm living the suite life, perfecting my microwave culinary skills. I have a bunch of side-projects lined up I'd like to work on, so maybe you'll get to hear about those, too.
 
Auf wiedersehen!
 
-B

 

Posted in: Class of 2014