A few weeks ago when Volvo released the new version of the XC-90 (pictured above), their big 7-seater SUV, they also made a statement that was really quite bold considering the humble nature of the company’s past. This is what the head of Volvo said “By 2020, no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo”. That’s merely 5 years away but if there’s a car company that can actually achieve this, it’d be Volvo. Volvo has always been at the forefront of safety technology in cars, all the way back to 1944 when laminated glass was first used in a production car and 1958 when the modern three-point seat belt was first invented by a Volvo engineer. They also developed the first rear-facing child seat as well as their own booster seat available in most of their models. They were at the forefront of safety innovation when they introduced the Side Impact Protection System in 1991, the Whiplash Protection System in 1998, and the Blind Spot Information System in 2004. All of these seem like pretty normal safety features a lot of cars have now but it was Volvo who did them first. And to add to this already impressive list of features, there’s also the fact that a lot of car companies including Volvo are working on auto-piloted vehicles through the use of radar, cameras and sensor etc. And they’re on the right track to achieving their new goal too. The brand new XC-90 is made of various alloys of aluminum and steel and is supposedly an extremely safe vehicle. Below you can see an in depth view on how intricate and varied the chassis is.
Two nights ago in Lower Court there was a Chef Challenge competition between four schools. The way it works is schools send a few of their chefs to a school where they each prepare a few offerings with a specific cultural theme. Students sample food from each of the four and vote for their favorite at the end. The four schools were Lehigh, Moravian, Muhlenberg, and DeSales.
Lehigh’s cultural theme was Italy and they made quite a few offerings. They made some garlic bread, spinach salad with olives, chicken parmigiana sandwich, pasta with vodka sauce, and tiramisu for dessert.
If I’m not mistaken Moravian’s theme was Mexico and they made chicken and cheese quesadillas, guacamole with some chips, and these chocolate covered cookies for dessert.
Then Muhlenberg’s theme was India where they had naan with chicken curry, a lamb biryani, some curried vegetables, and some kind of rice dessert with dried fruits and nuts.
Finally DeSales theme was America where they made a cheese steak sandwich with potato chips and also a vanilla shake.
I was only able to eat from Lehigh, Moravian, and Muhlenberg but friends of mine got some of what DeSales made too. Everything the schools made was great. It was much better than a normal night of dinner and it was a lot of fun to try each of what the schools made. It was also very crowded so the lines were quite long. In the end though Lehigh won by a landslide. I think we had over 300 votes compared to the other schools where none of them surpassed even 60 votes. It was a great night and now I can’t wait for next years competition.
For those of you who have not been following what I have been doing, here is a quick recap. When I came back from Pacing Break I found out that some people tried to fly the practice airplane. However, it was a windy day and consequently they crashed it and broke the motor mount. Since I could not get just the motor mount without having to buy a whole new plane, I had to create a new one. So, I went into Solidworks (a 3D drawing program) and created a model of it. This is where I left off on my last post.
Before Thanksgiving break, I sent the material with which to make the mount (top left picture) and the computer drawings for the parts to the laser cutting staff. They cut them out and on Monday I went in and got them (top right).
I spent a few hours putting it all together and gluing it. This is the result.
Finally the plane is fixed and ready to fly again.
As the semester winds down and finals approach, it’s important to reflect on what you’ve learned in the semester. Personally, I have had a frustrating semester with a lot of projects. Not group projects, fortunately, but often the projects are really difficult and it’s helpful to collaborate with other people. I end up spending a lot of time in the “Cad Lab.” A place set aside for mechanical engineers with the programs needed to do most of the assignments. The were just redone over the summer and sport large computer screens and new age green rolling chairs. However, printing used to be free, but now costs
Matlab is a program I had never heard of before college, but I wish I had. The program is actually SO COOL! It’s introduced in a monotonous not so exciting class, and the purpose is to give you some background before getting to harder projects but the exercises given in the class end up being pretty irrelevant.
This semester I am taking a System Dynamics (ME 242) with Professor Hart. The final project was to take a system and model it in Matlab and an extension of Matlab, Simulink. I chose one wheel of a car suspension. Granted, I know nothing about cars, and still don’t really know much about cars, but I do know what happens when you take a wheel and drive it over a bump.
Pictured above is the step function applied to the system. Without getting into the details of the engineering of the project, I learned a lot; this is my preferred style of learning. Being given a task and working through it slowly to understand what I’m being asked. This style of working and learning is why I personally became an engineer.
An added note to this project Lehigh has a way to virtually use the computers with the software and although I prefer being in the Cad Lab, it is a life saver for those late nights when you can’t get back down to campus
While the Thanksgiving break was nice and long and relaxing it was also a great excuse to procrastinate doing my homework. Last night was rough as I worked for 8 hours straight on work I should’ve done incrementally over break. I suppose trying to do calculus with a belly full of turkey isn’t necessarily ideal but it’s better than trying to do it quickly with 3 other assignments to do afterward the day before they’re all due. Normally I’m pretty good at managing my time. I hate starting assignments the night before they’re due, but this time it’s alright. This is the last week of classes so after this week I’ll be done with normal course work. Just one last week until the stress of finals truly sets in.
A few weeks ago I wrote about being filmed for the commercial Lehigh would air during the 150th meeting for LeLaf over CBS. I finally got to see the finished product at the game and see myself on the Jumbotron. I’ve never been on TV before so this was really cool for me to be a part of it. You can see the commercial here or watch below. I’m the guy welding on the second floor in the closing scene.
Recently I posted about a McLaren I saw parked on the street and shared it’s specifications and performance figures. I personally love to read about cars and I follow all news related to the auto industry. Because of this I figured that once a week I’d post something about the coolest thing I’d read that week for a new segment on cars.
To kick things off for my new segment I’ll introduce you to the Chaparral 2X Vision GT (pictured above). This concept from Chevy isn’t “real” even though they’ve fabricated a physical model for the LA Auto Show. For the release of the new Gran Tourismo racing video game the developers asked all the major car manufactures to send them a concept they could bring to life within the game. This is Chevys entry and it’s by far the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s proposed propulsion system employs a 671kW laser that’s powered by Li-ion batteries and an air-powered generator to produce approximately 900 hp. Apparently the laser “pulses beams of light that focus in a shroud, to create shock waves that generate massive thrust.” Unfortunately I’m not educated well enough in physics to comment on the plausibility of its power train but it’s fun to think that in a few decades all cars will adopt that sort of technology. Another cool aspect of the concept is that the driver of the vehicle is required to lay down flat in order to operate it which Chevy says “enables progressive strategies of active and driver adjustable aero.” Wicked. And to top things off its theorized that it’ll do 0-60 mph in 1.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 240mph. While this all seems like science fiction now, who knows, in a few decades this could be the normal for Formula One and a few decades after that maybe even the normal for consumer cars. For more info on the car click here.