with Ed Insel
We started class on Monday by checking the engineering drawings the students worked on during the week. There was some really excellent work done. However, being able to communicate precisely the product you need to have fabricated is only half of the competency: you also need to be able to read drawings and fabricate products from them. So that’s what we did! The class traded drawings and built the intended object. This is not a deep dive into drafting but it conveyed its essential nature, and the students will use this skill as they move on to actual projects.
Our topic this week was Project Management. This is the last of the fundamental engineering skills we’ll be covering. I explained the ideas of defining a goal, breaking it down into actionable steps, setting a schedule and budget, executing the project, and finally reviewing how it went and what could be done better next time. I used a personal example of building a highly-complex, highly-customized piece of equipment used in the production of every semiconductor device, from memory chips to LEDs to lasers to microprocessors. They were introduced to two of the most common communication tools: Pert charts and Gantt charts.
Next week we’ll finish the project management topic and begin studying the role science plays in current events, locally and globally. I will also be lecturing on the nature of light and how the sun’s energy is turned into useful energy on Earth. We’ll kick off the first of our hands-on projects: using solar cells to power an electrical device.
Homework for Next Session
The students worked on mini-projects in groups. They started to list the steps they need to go through to achieve the goal, and for our next session I want them to:
Example of one type of Pert chart:
Here are the lists that the groups finished before the class ended:
Team A is baking a cake. So far, their steps are: get supplies; open box of cake mix and put in bowl; crack two eggs into bowl; soften butter in microwave; add butter to ingredients; measure oil and milk, then add to the bowl; preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease and flour a cake pan; mix ingredients; pour mixture into pan; set timer; put cake in oven; take cake out of oven.
Team B is going to the beach and returning home without a sunburn. Their steps are: pack; get gas; drive to beach; put on sunscreen, set up area, have fun; re-apply sunscreen every hour; pack up stuff and put it in the car; leave the beach; avoid car accidents on the way home; unpack once home; relax.
Team C is going camping and coming safely home. Their steps: pick a destination (a glacier); decide when (spring break); decide how to get there (drive); pack; get gas; arrive; set up tent; camp, hike, sleep, and eat; pack up; go home.
Team D is building a tree house. Their steps: find a good tree; create a dimensioned blueprint (use titanium supports); find materials; determine weight limit; assemble; add as many additional features as they can within weight limits (ladder, beds, TV, beanbag chairs, game console, pantry, microwave, minifridge; laptops, closet, hot tub, porch); enjoy it; rent it out.
Please have your student choose a current event, bring it to class, and be prepared to explain 1) the event they chose and 2) the role that science plays in it. Mine will be the credibility of the size of Facebook’s user base.