Succesive Failure

Greetings and salutations, Olin community and prospective students(or prospies, as we affectionately call you)! I'm
Casey '14, one of the new kids - new to this blog, and to Olin. I've noticed
that a lot of people write about the out-of-the-ordinary things that happen
here (food and off-campus adventures seem to come up a lot), so I thought I
would tell you about something that every student experiences. That doesn't mean
that it is any less exciting.

Last Wednesday night, I, along with at least 50% of the
freshmen class, found myself covered in plastic dust. It was less than 24 hours
before hopper demo-day, and the two available machine shops were a-buzz with
drills drilling and sanders sanding and students looking befuddled (and
occasionally frustrated). We started this project for Design Nature at the very
beginning of the semester, went through the entire design process, and when it
came to the very end, my hopper didn't work.

But I finished constructing it nonetheless, and was actually
satisfied. First semester of freshman year is graded Pass/No Record, so that we
can "adjust" to college life. I think it's a vital part of this semester,
allowing us to try different study styles, and try to do crazy things for
projects, with much less inhibition. Because we don't have to worry about
grades, we can focus on learning and trying out things that may or may not
work. So even though my hopper just twitched on the table instead of
somersaulting in the air like I had hoped, I was pretty proud of my efforts. I
learned a ton, especially about how to effectively and efficiently use the
machines in the shop. So I trudged back from the Academic Center, and went to
sleep, still covered in plastic shavings, but mostly content.

The next day people chatted about their hoppers, and whether
or not they met their design goals. I joked about my utter failure, and dreaded
Design Nature where I would have to publicly admit my defeat.

When it came time for demos, most of the hoppers were very
impressive! And because of some strange rip in the space-time continuum, mine
actually hopped! Granted, it was only about 2 centimeters, but it gave its best
effort, and valiantly lifted itself off the table!


A very impressive (and successful) hopper, courtesy of Oren '14

I heard an upperclassman wisely say that if her first
semester at Olin had a theme, it would be "feedback". I f I were to assign a
theme to my semester so far it would be "iteration",  which happened to be the vocabulary word that
I learned from the design process. For those of you that still need to take SATs,
it can be defined as "a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of
operations yields results successively closer to a desired result", according
to Olin calls it Spiral Learning. I may have made many
mistakes on my hopper, but on my next project hopefully I will know a little
bit more.

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