This past week gave us the release of the next generation of the Audi R8 ahead of its Geneva Motor Show release on March 5-15. It comes in two flavors so far, the 5.2 L V10 which produces 532 HP and the V10 Plus which produces 602 HP. This generation is over 100lbs lighter than the previous while still utilizing variable four-wheel drive. Its expected that the V10
Plus model will be able to achieve 0-60 mph in ~3.2 seconds. It’ll have the same S-Tronic double clutch gearbox but will be able to shift faster due to a software upgrade. I remember when the R8 was first released it was known to be a super car you could drive every day, even in the winter, and not worry about it breaking down. It’ll be interesting to see if this generation retains that reputation or if Audi has sought to change the direction of the car to be in a faster, more exotic club.
As a Mechanical Engineer, I have been taught finite element analysis, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, dynamics and plenty of other fields. Yet, one key point I got to realize sometime during my Freshman year was that in modern world, good knowledge of Mechanical Engineering disciplines has to be paired with proficiency in multiple types of software, some of which require strong programming background. That is why I decided to pursue a minor in Computer Science. Software that Mechanical Engineers make use of most frequently are MATLAB, Excel, Simulink, LabView, SolidWorks, Autodesk, NX, Maple, Mathematica and numerous others. Not all of these require programming, but all of them are of great importance. Programs like MATLAB are extremely powerful tools, that can solve any problem if the user is adept enough with them. MATLAB can solve problems that would take a person hours or maybe even days in mere seconds. That is why the merge of Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering is a very attractive idea and in the long term, extremely useful.
Secondly, there are certain fields like Mechatronics, Robotics, etc. that employ even more programming than other branches of engineering do. For these fields, in my opinion, just Mechanical Engineering knowledge does not suffice. There has to be a lot more, and to be fair I think that Computer Science/Engineering is one of the best to pair with it. Being able to apply one’s knowledge in Mechanical Engineering, to make a robot that could perform extremely complicated and subtle moves. Is not that appealing to every engineer? Well, maybe not but it is most certainly very intriguing to me. Baseline is programming is too important for us, engineers, not to make full use of it. And then again, besides the point, the more you know the more places you will go.
This week, progress has slowed due to exams but the previous week saw a lot of progress. I used the Solidworks files to make drafting drawing/schematics of the arch pieces of the bridge. These were then handed to our fabrication crew and they ordered the steel and began cutting the pieces for the arches. I still have to finish the drawings for the chords, legs, and crossbars/hangers but that shouldn’t take me too long. When I attempted to make the final assemble of all the bridge parts I had some trouble with the mating procedure, the dreaded over-defined error, and so I’ll have to wrestle with that next week. Lots of progress made but lots more yet to come. Stay tuned for updates.
It has been a month and a half since the beginning of the semester. Spring break is approaching us slowly. Yet, before students can leave campus for spring break, we have tons of exams, presentations and numerous other activities that have to be completed.
As a junior studying Mechanical Engineering, I am taking IPD (Integrated Product Development) course-ME 211, which is meant to teach engineering and business students how to work in groups and interact in order to develop interesting and useful products. The process of developing products involves a lot of work and incurs certain responsibilities. To start with, each group member has to research into the product it has been assigned to make and investigate the industry to understand the details of how the product should work, and what exactly are consumers expecting from it. Secondly, group members have to share their ideas with their advisors, peer mentors, sponsors, and with each other so that they can come up with further steps and make adequate decisions as to how they should proceed with product development. There are tons of different projects that different groups of students are working on. Innovation, as it was defined to us in the class, happens at the overlap of different engineering and business disciplines. That is why they decide to put us into groups that are comprised of people of different professions. Most of the projects we are assigned to work on are big company projects. As far as I understand, most groups will have a working prototype of their respective products by the end of the year. The reason I cannot discuss the products we are working on in detail is because each student signs a non-disclosure product in the beginning of semester. Yet, what I can say is that some products are meant for mass public use, whereas others target specific groups of people like researchers/scientists, engineers, doctors etc. In any case the process is interesting, because it invokes creativity and besides this is the first time we are actually given freedom to decide what to do with the time we have on our own. Our midterm presentations for this class are starting next week, where we will have to present our progress in the project and show where we are planning to go with it.
Plastered on every car related website this week are rumors that say Apple is working on secret car codenamed ‘Titan’. Apparently Apple has been quietly attracting automotive engineers, some from Tesla even, to work on the project. Some reports have said that adapted Chrysler Voyagers have been spotted in both New York and San Francisco with boxes of sensors attached to the roof of the car indicating a project focused on autonomous driving capabilities. On Apple’s design team for the project is Marc Newson, who design the car pictured above (Ford 021C) for the Tokyo Auto Show in 1999. Don’t let the picture fool you though, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s car most closely resembles that of a mini van. All of this is good fun to think about but truth be told, if this project is even real don’t see Apple entering the auto industry. Even though with its $123 billion it most definitely could enter the market, and with the devoted fan base they have they’d sure be successful, I just don’t see Apple making such a drastic change in company direction. But what do I know? Only time will tell what becomes of ‘Titan.’
Last Thursday, AIAA had a helicopter competition, a lot of students came to fly the mini helicopter and professor Grenestedt and Angstadt also came. It was a lot of fun, and there pizza provided. They have two helicopter which is easier to control, since you only need to control, pitch, and yaw, and they also one quadcopter, Which you need to control pitch, yaw and roll.
Here is the helicopter and quadcopter and remote controls.
Professor Grenestedt learning how to control.
Student fly the mini helicopter.
Timing the fly.
So this semester hasn’t been so bad in terms of classes but there is always that one class that you always have a hard time with in my opinion and that class is my Mech 012 class, Strength of Materials. The hard part about this class though has just been the project we have been assigned, which is to write a program that will do a finite element analysis of a 1-D bar. Now you might say, “What in the world does that mean?”
Well take a look at this rod for example. If I were to divide it into separate parts, lets say 3 evenly spaced parts (because that’s what the picture shows), and I were to place a certain number of forces anywhere along the length of the bar, my goal would be to determine the displacement of each node (the x1, x2, etc.) and the stress that each element exerts. Elements are the evenly spaced parts you separated the bar into(the green).
Now we can do this by hand if we wanted to since the bar is only split into 3 elements, but my project calls for 200 elements, which would take an eternity to do! Hence why we have to program this on MATLAB. I’m almost done with the project, but it has taken a long time to do and has been difficult to figure out. But I still have to admit that this stuff is still pretty cool to know.