Year 1: January Term Week 1

Hello all,

If you're not from the NYU community, you might be wondering what January term is. J-Term is a mini-semester just over 2 weeks long, in which we take only one intensive course. Many students have the opportunity to spend their J-Term at one of NYU's global sites around the world. This year, due to my engineering major requirements, I'm still in Abu Dhabi, taking an class called Design and Innovation.
Image credits to the Engineering Design faculty
It's a hands-on, project-based class where we have instruction and work time from 9-5 (with lunch break), six days a week, then typically stay in the Engineering Design Studio until late in the evening collaborating on our projects. Basically, I'll be living and breathing engineering full-time for the next few weeks... I even had a dream about circuits, haha.

The last week of class, we will be designing a product from start to finish in small groups. This week and next week, we're being trained in how to use various software, tools, and technology, with "mini-challenge" projects along the way. We have an awesome team of professors from all over the world helping us, and I can't believe how many resources are free for us to use.

On day one, the professors gave us Ohm's Law temporary tattoo stickers... (Voltage = current * resistance) As if high school teachers hadn't already drilled the formula into my brain, but why not?
Who knew I'd get a tattoo in college? (It washed off in the shower, don't worry haha)
This class is so exhausting and frustrating but kind of amazing at the same time. I don't think I've ever focused on one thing so intensely like this. It's a good window into what working on real-world engineering projects will be like. I'm working in a team of four with three guys from Uganda, Ghana, and Pakistan.

Awkward selfies with my Design and Innovation team :)
We've only had a few days of class, and I already feel like I've learned more useful skills than I would in a month of most classes. We're learning to build circuits with Arduino boards, and we had training sessions in 3D printing, sewing, soldering, using tools, using a laser cutter, and making prototypes.

Spiderweb of wires-- at some point we'll learn to be organized

Meet Gina and Chuck, two of our 3D printers :)

Demos with the laser cutter
Our first mini-challenge was to design and build a working bike light from start to finish in two days.
After a lot of hard work and prototyping, our team of four made the Ladybug Light!





A few screws, some glue, some finishing touches...
And.... *drumroll* ....
The final product!

It has a light sensor inside that causes it to blink quickly when a car headlight approaches. It also has 5 different blinking modes controlled by a toggle switch. The casing was designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and 3D printed, and the base was designed and cut from acrylic using the laser cutter. I sewed the ladybug's head and did most of the aesthetic work on the outside. The back has an on/off switch, mode switch, and battery compartment, along with the velcro straps.

Considering we only had two days and I just barely learned most of the technology necessary to make this work, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I'm thankful for my teammates-- even though we drive each other crazy and disagree on a lot of things, our different ideas and talents make us a well-rounded group of designers/engineers. I'm also thankful for the professors who spent their weekend hours around the clock helping us, answering our questions, and trusting beginners with quite expensive technology/resources.

I can't wait for the rest of these two weeks in Design and Innovation- but I'm going to sleep extra soundly tonight now that this project is done. There's a lot more of this to come.

Goodnight from Saadiyat Island,