With record setting snowfall this year, my fellow students and I were presented with the unique opportunity of extra free time on snow days, and a virtually limitless supply of an extremely versatile building material, snow. One morning my roommate and I set out to try and build a sizable igloo, and thanks to the help of many of our classmates, we were successful. The igloo has an internal radius of just over eight feet, and stood strong until the end of March even as the surrounding snow began to melt.
To provide proper ventilation, there is a two inch diameter hole at each cardinal direction. This ensures that no matter the direction of the wind, at least one hole will remain clear of snow and allow for circulation.
The positioning of the entrance to the igloo provides a sense of separation from the main community, making it a great place for quite relaxation. It also faces a thick grove of trees, so wind is unlikely to blow directly inside.
To celebrate its completion, myself and two others slept inside during the infamous Boston blizzard. We dug alcoves for candles to illuminate the space, and the heat from these slowly melted away snow, tunneling upwards.
The positioning of the igloo in plain view of the dorms inspired many students to come help, and we might not have been able to finish without their support. The last few days of construction the snow would not pack well, so we had to resort to mixing powdered snow with hot water to make slush, which could be used to bind hard packed blocks together.
A single hole in the top acts as a chimney, which allows small cook stoves to be operated inside. When occupied, igloos can maintain a temperature up to 40 degrees warmer than that of the outside. This caused the surface inside the igloo to melt and refreeze, forming a strong layer of ice.
Snow that collected under the chimney.
The downwards slope at the entrance, as well as the long tunnel helps keep heat inside.
Being intentional about how space is used is very important to both my roommate as well as myself, especially when limited to the fairly small space inside a college dorm room. We put a lot of thought into what we could build and change to get the most out of the space and make it a pleasant and comfortable place in which to live and host friends. The result is a lofted room which maximizes open space and takes advantages of every aspect of the room, and allows us to seat up to 25 people watching a movie or hanging out.
The corner window provides a unique opportunity for improvement. Because of its irregular shape traditional furniture wont fill the area and most corner rooms end up with large amounts of wasted space. The corner bench turns otherwise wasted space into a very pleasant sitting area, as well as allows for a significant amount of storage.
The footprint of beds from the room frees up the only wall long enough to fit both desks side by side. This puts them out of the way as well as behind the projector screen when it is lowered.
One of the things we wanted to make sure to do was keep all the legs of the loft against the wall so they don't protrude into the room. Because of the L shape there is always one corner which must be hanging in space, so in order to support it and eliminate the need for a leg we ran a cable from the deck into the AC vent where it anchors to a 2x4 secured to structural beams in the ceiling.
The square platform matches the cutout of the window seat allowing it to mesh there and act as a step, or be pulled into the center of the room to become a coffee table when needed.
The irregular features in the wall prevent many things from fitting nicely against them, so we built a small food and beverage station into what would otherwise have been empty space.
Our first project in the course Design Nature is to build a hopper with a mechanism found in nature. This is an early prototype to test the validity of the design, and which resulted in many insights into ways in which it could be improved.
Final CAD model, used motion studies in Solidworks to find high estimates for the jump. The holes were added to reduce weight, and the tabs provide a place to mount the trigger mechanism. The position of the bands were also adjusted to increase the initial torque on the system.
This early sketch model was a proof of concept design, it is made of cheap and simple materials so it could be built quickly at a very low cost.
Early sketch model with the trigger engaged
Sketch model to test a second idea similar to the action of a scissor lift
The scissor design fully extended, it was capable of a long extension but due to increased mass and more pivot points causing friction it was not capable of jumping as high.
For a number of classes, specifically Mechanics and Dynamics, I have created and implemented mathematical simulations of real world systems. I have found the ability to create realistic simulations to be a powerful tool for optimizing a physical system during the design phase. Most of these simulations are quite versatile, they take an initial position and velocity and will calculate and animate the path the system will take, and all have been validated using various methods such as a building a physical model, limiting cases, or energy conservation. Functional simulations include:
- Double pendulum (point masses as well as inertial rods) - 3D double inertial pendulum (validated with physical model) - Swinging Atwoods machine (validated with physical model) - Ball Rolling around a cup