The Next New Things: Presenting Final Projects in IDEAS 170

In December, the students of IDEAS 170: Introduction to Design and Engineering presented inventions of their own design. These final group projects are possibly the next new life hacks everyone will crave: a projector that doesn’t rely on electricity (great for watching movies when the power is out), a chair that folds flat (packs easily and saves space), or a dorm room light that mimics the sun (helps set your sleep/wake cycle naturally).

Additionally, one group of Wesleyan students collaborated with students from Renbrook School in West Hartford. Betsy Flynn, Lower School Learning Specialist at Renbrook, explained: “The Renbrook students brought their accessible playscape design to Wesleyan and pitched their idea to the class on the same day that other project ideas were pitched. Then the Wesleyan team came to Renbrook with several elements of their inclusive playground to get feedback from Renbrook students. They spent an hour together getting to know each other and had a spirited discussion of what each had in mind in their designs.”

On the day the final projects were presented, the Wesleyan students set about creating a one-inch scale prototype of the playscape, inviting their younger collaborators to visit the University to see how their initial ideas had taken physical (albeit miniature) form.

The two IDEAS sections of the fall 2018 semester, taught by Professor of Physics Greg Voth and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Integrative Sciences Daniel Moller, offered 32 students the opportunity to work collaboratively on project-based studies at the intersection of design, the arts, and engineering. The course, part of a new interdisciplinary minor, the Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS) program, is hosted and administered by the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS).

Wesleyan (issue 3, 2018) featured the course in its cover article, Putting the Art in Smart Design, following the students through the first half of the course as they worked on individual devices that would hop after a timing mechanism released. A video, “The Big Hopper Reveal,” illustrated their design and engineering work at the semester’s midpoint. The photos and video below, taken at the end of the fall 2018 semester, show the group inventions. (Remember: You saw them here first). (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

Trevor Devanny ’20, Joe Clayton ’20, Liam Murray ’20, and Mauricio Bailleres ’21 ready their go-cart, complete with fully functional steering mechanism, for its outdoor trial run.

Professor and Chair of the Physics Department Greg Voth examines the steering mechanism for stability.

Joe Clayton ’20 gives Mauricio Bailleres ’21 the starting push.

The Renbrook students marvel at the details in the playscape they had imagined. Watching this interaction are the Wesleyan students who brought it into physical reality: Zack Lobel ’19, Adrianna Brown ’20, Sara Pinsonault ’20, and Oliver Benson ’22. Renbrookthe Lower School Learning Specialist Betsy Flynn (right) looks on.

Zack Lobel ’19 explains the laser printer to the Renbrook collaborators.

Behind the Renbrook ideas team, the Wesleyan IDEAS team: Sara Pinsonault ’20, Oliver Benson ’22, Adrianna Brown ’20, and Zack Lobel ’19. Front row students include Gabriella Farrell (second from left) and CJ G., right.

Sara Pinsonault ’20, Oliver Benson ’22, Adrianna Brown ’20, and Zack Lobel ’19 with the inclusive playscape model.

The Renbrook and Wesleyan collaborators, with the result of their efforts. On the right, Professor Greg Voth, with Renbrook’s Betsy Flynn in front and fifth-grade teacher Jane Johansen just behind. Parents also joined the Wesleyan/Renbrook photo commemorating the collaboration.

Renbrook students were also captivated by the next project presented in the IDEAS 170 final project class: a marble run with components that can be reconfigured. Renbrook student CJ G. (front, right) and his peers wait for the action.

The marble-run creators at the ready: Nathanael Mathieu ’20, Nate Antoine ’21, and Evan Wasiak ’19.

The class and team watch as Nathanael Mathieu ’20 starts the marble for its trial run, with cocreators Wasiak ’19 and Antoine ’21 on the right. An important part of these assignment in IDEAS 170 is always the assessment after the presentation, the ideas students have about improvements for a future iteration. Notes Mathieu, “Our choice of wire would have been better suited in a permanent installation; it was too rigid for us to work with comfortably. We found that the more mundane things, such as the track that connected the elements on the run, were far more challenging to create than we expected. The elements were much more exciting to us, so we allocated more time than we should have to them.”

A chair that folds flat: Wei-Ling Carrigan ’20 watches as Scott Irwin ’19 and Kalib Varela ’19 steady their creation.

And … success!

The full team: Wei-Ling Carrigan ’20, Scott Irwin ’19, Kalib Varela ’19, with Daniela Sweet-Coll ’21 participating via Skype.

The Sun Light team: Diva de Loayza ’21, Rebekah Song ’21, Yuhan Wang ’19, and Ryan Guarino ’19 (not shown). The team created an artificial sun lamp programmed to move through a light cycle simulating the sun. Wang explains: “Many students are troubled with having a sleep schedule that doesn’t conform to the natural daylight hours. Therefore, we were inspired to create a more soothing wake-up and falling asleep experience through making an artificial sun that adjusts to the user’s sleeping schedule. This project challenged us in so many ways, from programming to wiring to using technology that we had never touched before, so we all walked out of this project with a lot of new knowledge.”

The team explained the challenges they faced in their prototyping.

A time-lapse video illustrated the color and intensity of the light over the course of a day.

Asher Leeming ’22 explains the process of creating a vending machine that can be activated with an identification card.

Asher Leeming ’22, Charlie Barrett ’19, Sahil Shah ’19, Ethan Addis ’21 present their borrowing machine—a vending machine that will allow the user to borrow a small object, such as a pen or flashlight—releasing the desired item in exchange for a Wesleyan ID card. The user will receive his card again when he returns the borrowed material.

A floating garden—a structure that will allow one to grow vegetables or herbs on flooded areas, went through several prototyping processes. Additionally, the team designed the structure so that several could be linked together to create a larger garden on wetlands or a pond.

David Baraka ’21 (right) explains the structure of their garden, as team members Liana Borges-Sotero ’19 (left) and Elisa Pettinato ’22 (right) look on.

David Baraka ’21, Elisa Pettinato ’22, and Liana Borges-Sotero ’19 exhibit the herbs grown on their floating garden device. “The idea behind this project was to create a floating garden that would allow individuals who live in relatively wet climates to still be able to plant food successfully without the need for large amounts of land,” says Borges-Sotero. “We chose this project with the intentions of creating ‘something from nothing’ in essence, as the majority of the materials used for this garden are materials that people typically discard of such as plastic bottles and bamboo, both of which can grow/accumulate in inconvenient amounts for some.”

Jack Swansey ’21 introduces the “No Power Projector,” the result of a weekend spent without power, when watching a movie would have been the perfect thing to do.

Viewers want a projector that displays the image and broadcasts the sound—especially if several viewers are to enjoy the movie together.

When you are able to watch a movie, even if the power is out, here’s who to thank: Katerin Ortega Villanueva ’20, Daniel Gordon ’19, and Jack Swansey ’21.