Swimmers… almost

Live from Design Nature Studio 1, AC 204, this is Colin Zwiebel. From the looks of the room, there is some real creativity going on the room is getting messier as we progress further into Monday.


Why are so many first-years working passionately through their sleeping hours? Tomorrow, amid the end of classes and looming finals, a very ruthless bunch of individuals will converge on Olin. That's right, a class of 4th graders are coming to review swimmers, the final project of Design Nature.

Design Nature, part of what is now dubbed the "Olin Introductory Experience," is described as a "focus is on the general principles and methods

that shape the practice of engineering design." Design Nature goes through this process by designing two bio-inspired devices. The first device is the hopper, a self-powered, plastic (Delrin, to be specific) jumping toy that must trigger and jump by itself after being placed on a flat surface. The second device is our beloved swimmer. Swimmers, which have replaced Climbers as the end-of-term Design Nature project, are built in small teams of 3-5 people. They must meet the needs of the stakeholders, which in this case are the parties concerned with children's toys. (Parents, kids, manufacturers) Teams may bring in outside supplies, up to a limit of $50 value, and this project consumes the last 10 weeks of class time. Along the way we learn project scheduling, budgeting, team dynamics, different design approaches, technical knowledge (depending on your design), and all the juicy gossip on our team members**.


Phelpinators motion proposal diagram, part of the concept review stage of swimmer design.


Where are we in the design process? Project time-lines (this one courtesy of Rock Lobster) are required, though they won't stop the creative **cough-procrastination-cough** juices from concentrating near the end of the project. Don't worry Rock Hoppers, I'm not accusing you.

Nautilus Swim Test

Will it swim? Jacqui and Charlie take their Nautilus for a dip.

We haven't made it to demo day yet. We are at about t minus 8 hours. Things are getting pretty crazy. I've heard more references to internet memes than is healthy. Some teams are getting into the spirit of their projects, like the hippo team which is kindly serenading us with I want a hippopotamus for Christmas on infinite loop. Others seem to being doing pre-tests of their swimmers by reducing the effective age though chair surfing and other raucous horseplay. The Wellesley Domino's delivery dude is probably glad we passed their closing hour. I have seen many, sporadic orders of Alex Davis Specials come through. I am confident, however, that we will make it though the night, have (mostly) swimming toys, final SolidWorks models, and maybe even some PR propaganda.

Swimmers are... to be continued.


*Less on the fabrication side, unless you consider first-years to be the manufacturer.

**That last one might not be a learning goal.

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