3D printing plane parts

3D printing has become much more popular in the engineering world in recent years. Some reasons for this are that it is much cheaper than it used to be and it can make very complicated shapes that would be impossible to make using normal manufacturing methods. Lehigh understands this trend and they have, in Wilbur Powerhouse, many 3D printers available so that students can get experience using this technology. However, because of the large volume of people wanting to print stuff they have a rule that the printing must be done for an academic reason.

For a while now I have been wanting to use these 3D printers but yet I have not had a class or any reason to use them. However, just a few days ago, the graduate student I work for asked if I could use them to print models of the air vehicle we are working on. He needed them to conduct wind tunnel tests of the design. After I said yes, he showed me some of the basics for how to use the machines. After some trial and error, mostly error, I finally got the 3D printed parts he wanted. Below are some pictures of the parts and of the machine I used to print them. Once I got the hang of the machines I enjoyed making them and I look forward to using the machines again.

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Practice plane motor mount built

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).

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I spent a few hours putting it all together and gluing it. This is the result.

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Finally the plane is fixed and ready to fly again.

Dual degrees, clearance prices, and transgender talks (and some ’20s music to kick off your day)

So! For any of you who know me personally, you’ll be quite aware that I make costumes. A lot. Favorite hobby: make costumes. Lots of costumes. Anyway, I’ve finally, officially decided to go ahead with a dual degree–a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in theater (with, obviously, a concentration on the technical side of it). Also, shameless little self-promotion here: my costume blog! Anyway. The dual-degree thing will be a five-year run, and I’m finally starting to feel like I can relax about it. I’m not declaring it yet because there’s a lot of paperwork and the second run of exams are coming up, but hey, no rush.

Also, has anyone checked out the markdown racks in the Lehigh Bookstore Starbucks/snack shop? There’s packets of pop rocks and mints and stuff for, like, $0.50. (Needless to say, I bought at least six of them.) If you need a quick pick-me-up, stop by–it’s in the back of the snack shop area with a little sign saying half-off or something like that.

AND! FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT YET AWARE: Janet Mock and Ryan Sallans are going to be on campus TOMORROW! They’re both prominent transgender activists and have both written books on being transgender; they’re giving talks on their books and trans topics tomorrow in Packard 101 at 7pm. Here’s the flyer:

And I mentioned the ’20s music, right? Well, I found this new band called Postmodern Jukebox–they do “vintage” re-imaginings and covers of popular songs. And, the guy who arranges a lot of their music? His name’s Scott Bradlee, and he also does piano covers and mashups that are awesome. My favorite is a mashup of Lithium by Nirvana and Titanium by David Guetta. And here’s a remake of Fancy in 1920s style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzPGzGUNZbs&list=UUORIeT1hk6tYBuntEXsguLg

All right, that’s all I’ve got. Keep moving forward, y’all!

Let’s explore why I’m glad I failed Calculus.

This is college. Classes are hard–a lot harder than high school–and there’s a lot more work and responsibility to handle.

With that said, some of us are going to have to retake classes. It’s a simple fact of moving up the academic ladder. Success isn’t always straightforward.

I find that a lot of people in the engineering and technical-specialized-stuff disciplines–you know, the kids who pride themselves on being the “supersmart geniuses”–are really averse to the topic of “not doing so well,” having to retake a class, not being “ahead,” or having to get tutoring, or the like. Well, I have news for you.

It’s a heck of a lot worse to fail or barely scrape by and end up having ten times the difficulty in higher-level classes instead of asking for help, going to tutoring sessions, forming study groups, and in some cases, taking another shot at it. You’re a damn engineer. Since when has “hacking at it repeatedly with the exact same technique hoping it’ll magically work this time” ever EVER been a viable solution to a problem?????? UGH. What’s the first step to finding a solution? Look at your options. Not just the option you “really like.” Look at ALL THE OPTIONS.

I’m taking Calc 2 for the second time. And you know what? First Calc 2 class I took here at Lehigh, my final grade was something horrid. It was like… 54% or something. I barely understood what I was doing and panicked and just tried memorizing a bazillion formulas before the test. Ha ha ha. Not gonna fly, obviously. So, I’m still in Calc 2 right now while some of my engineering peers are taking–what is it?–linear algebra? I think so. But also–guess what?

Just got my 4:00 exam back, and it’s 100% this time. I’m not kidding–one hundred freaking percent. Perfect score. I literally aced the test. And on top of that, my confidence and fluidity when using calculus to solve problems is tenfold now, and–example of my ultimate nerdiness–I was so happy about my mastery of the material that I actually taught my mom how to calculate arc lengths over the phone. Sure, I could have studied a bit more last semester and barely scraped by with a C-, but I would have a C- sitting on my GPA like an elephant PLUS I’d probably have failed Calc 3 and had to take a class over again anyway.

Like I said, success isn’t always straightforward. I’m actually pretty glad I’m where I am with calculus–despite dreaming since I was 4 of being an engineer, my relationship with math is sometimes a bit rocky, and I really prefer being able to say “I aced my test and there’s literally not a single thing I don’t understand” instead of “I’m having a lot of trouble and I don’t totally understand what I’m doing but I didn’t fail so I must be doing something okay.”

If you end up “failing” and/or having to retake a class, or you’re worried about a grade in a particular class, take a deep breath. Retaking a class is not the end of the world, and sometimes, it could possibly yield a net benefit greater than the net benefit of not retaking in the long-run–which isn’t something often considered. (How do you think that shiny lil’ 100% is going to look when replacing that putrid 54% in my GPA, after all?)

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you retaking a class, going to get tutoring, or asking for help is bad, or that you’re somehow “less intelligent” or “failing” or “not good enough.” Oh, and that includes yourself. Please don’t talk yourself into thinking you’re not doing good enough if something doesn’t turn out how you expected it to, or–to put it frankly–you don’t end up meeting your own expectations. Seriously. You’re not a fortune-teller–you don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then that might affect the feasibility of your goal! Technically speaking, you can’t even be 100% sure that the goal you’ve set is completely possible on its own. Set goals to the best of your ability, but don’t think those goals have to be completely inflexible. A failed goal is when you give up, not when you try a different attack angle or rethink what the goal is. Remember: engineers don’t try one solution to a problem, especially when that friggin’ solution doesn’t work.

And to finish off, here’s a few resources to help you out, if you don’t know where to start.

http://getcalculus.com/ — Lehigh’s very own Professor Salathe put together a companion “textbook” (not really a full textbook–it’s meant to be a complement to your calculus class) to go along with most Calc 1 and 2 classes. It’s actually really helpful, and isn’t too expensive–like, under $20.

Tutoring — Lehigh’s Center for Academic Success offers tutoring in various forms–walk-in tutoring for a variety of topics, weekly sessions in some of the larger freshman res halls, and regular group sessions on a lot of first- and second-year classes.

PurpleMath — For those of you like me, sometimes you need a reminder of more basic things. EVERYTHING related to algebra, trigonometry, and even some calculus-related topics like series and sequences are all there, covered in glorious step-by-step format. Also REALLY helpful for engineers who need a review on matrices/vectors, systems of equations, and there’s also literally an entire section dedicated to how to pick apart word problems.

  • For a more calculus-based how-to, check out PatrickJMT on YouTube. If you’re stuck and need a quick explanation, his videos tend to do pretty well, but also talk to your professor if you really don’t understand something–there’s a HUGE benefit to actually being able to ask questions! I’d suggest watching the entire video really closely one time through, then watch it again and try to work through your problem at the same time, following each step he makes.

Study Skills at Lehigh — Also offered by the Center for Academic Success is help with study skills. Time management and reward/motivation, memory, stress, learning styles and conflicts, and anxiety are just a few of the topics touched upon. Basically: if you’re having trouble getting homework done or aren’t doing so well in a class and either aren’t sure why or aren’t sure what to try different, go here and request to talk to someone seriously do it do it do it. Let’s be real–sometimes you need another set of eyes on a problem. It’s literally just like how you sometimes have to have someone else look at your math problem to point out where you’re messing up, because a lot of the time, you just simply can’t see it. They also do workshops for student groups, teams, organizations, clubs, fraternities, sororities, res halls… you name it.

And finally: Lehigh University Directory. A lot of the time, one of the best people to ask is your professor. That link will take you to a person-look-up-type thing where you can type in your professor’s or TA’s last name and find their website, email, address, and sometimes office phone number, too.

Wow. This is a really long post. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me, and I hope I could provide some useful advice and/or help!

More exams, inequity in the classroom, Grecian news, and coffee backpacks

4:00 exams are still going strong. (Mechanics wasn’t too pretty–it’s a tough class, but we’ll get there eventually.) I’m pretty confident in my Economics exam. And Calculus is this Thursday–oh, boy, that’s tomorrow, isn’t it. Time flies.

Speaking of the Economics exam. Ah, don’t sit in the front row if you can help it. Pfft. I literally had about four more words to write to finish my sentence–and the TA quite literally just yanked the paper out of my hands. Ya wanna talk economics? The people in the back got to finish writing! Unfair distribution of resources! (Which is inequity, by the way, equity being fair distribution. Ha.) Anyway, I’m still confident in the rest of my answers. (Also, there was a question about Hamlet. GO, ENGLISH SKILLZ. although if you read the cover page of the exam, the answer was like. right there.)

On a more serious topic, there has been an incident within Lehigh’s Greek life recently–I’m hesitant to write about the topic, but alas, the subject matter is quite important to me.

One of the fraternities was recently charged with several counts of misconduct; there’s an update here. Included in the report is what I believe has been a repeated occurrence of direct negative bias toward non-heterosexual people–reports mention a “chant” used as a drinking song or drinking game that, from my observation, seemed to imply the member was gay if he did not drink along, or something to that effect; the report isn’t terribly clear on the specifics.

As president of Spectrum, and as an LGBT-identified person myself, this is particularly alarming. Despite that Lehigh’s Greek life is taking wonderful steps forward–Greek Allies is gaining momentum and support, and the president of one of the sororities has organized a Pride Walk (like a pride parade) around campus in order to garner support and show LGBT involvement in Greek life, which will be awesome–there is still discriminatory bias here. It still happened. From the reports, I personally do not think concluding that multiple members of this fraternity participated in this behavior over a longer period of time is unreasonable; people have reported this chant/song is sung on chapter members’ birthdays and other notable occasions, so it is not a once-or-twice problem. No reports of members standing up against it, or feeling comfortable standing up against it, have surfaced yet except for the report from the anonymous student who initially notified the police. I feel an implicit trust has been broken here, and as it’s impossible to tell who engaged in the chant and who did not, I’m quite perplexed when faced with what my appropriate reaction is or should be.

This isn’t a lost case, though. Phi Kappa Theta, I strongly encourage and welcome you to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community and resources here on campus and elsewhere. I cannot speak for everyone, but I believe many of us are willing as ever to spread awareness of these issues–LGBTQIA+ folk are your fellow students, your friends, your family, possibly your fellow brothers, and that is never something to be ashamed of or ridiculed. Diversity of all kinds should be celebrated; I hate that this opportunity for contact arises from such an awkward incident, but I do believe we can all use this to build better, stronger bridges than before.

And to end on a lighter note, I need a new coffee mug. I bike all over campus, so I put my coffee in my backpack’s side pocket most of the time, but then… of course, I forget it’s there, throw my backpack on the floor/couch/my bed/etc., and it spills all over the books and papers in my backpack. My backpack has a nice smell of Starbucks’ Pike Place Medium Roast now, to which I do not completely object, but so does half my calculus homework, which is now stained a nice, delicious walnut color. -siiiigh-

Pacing Break is almost upon us. Keep at it, folks. You’re almost there!

ME 240

As I’ve talked about before, one of the classes I’m in is the manufacturing course, ME 240. We’ve been making a lot of process with the car project. I think I talked about my project before, but in case I didn’t, the two 8th graders I’m working with wanted a Spongebob car. You can see my 3D model below. We’ve made a few changes since I saved the picture below, but it’s pretty much the same idea. We 3D model the car using SolidWorks, then we create a mold and then we create a tool path to create this mold. Once the mold is made, we will be injection molding the cars. Injection molding is basically shooting really hot plastic into a mold to create a part. So after we have our plastic model, we will be gluing Hot Wheels car wheels onto the car. If you’d like to see more about the other cars and more about the project you can go to: 


There are a lot of cool car projects to check out.

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Interesting Faculty of the Week: Joachim L Grenestedt

“While Ivy League Professors break tensile specimens

Lehigh Professors break world records.”


This is the quote and poster that is pasted on the door of Dr. Grenestedt’s office as breaking world records is a enormous accomplishment for anyone to achieve.

The enclosed streamlined motorcycle, or streamliner, that Joachim Grenestedt built looks like a miniature airplane with no wings. Its tiny cockpit seems far too small to fit a person of average size, much less Grenestedt—who stands 6 feet, 4 inches tall. Grenestedt built the streamliner to set a land speed record, but the contorted position he must assume inside the cockpit hardly permits him to drive, let alone race. He must lie almost flat on his back, and safety restraints are strapped so tightly against his body, arms, ankles, knees and thighs, that he can barely move his left foot to change gears.

Add to this the streamliner’s low center of gravity, which makes the machine difficult to balance and wobbly at low speeds. And steering is a bit counterintuitive: to go left, Grenestedt must steer right, causing the streamliner to lean, and then steer left. None of this kept Grenestedt, a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, here at Lehigh

Dr. Grenestedt navigated his streamliner across the snow-white, marvelously even surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah at a speed of 133.165 miles per hour. He shattered the previous U.S. land speed record of 125.594 mph for 125-cc engines running on gasoline.


Here is some of Dr. Grenestedt’s Background according to the school website.

Joachim Grenestedt is professor of mechanical engineering and director of Lehigh’s Composites Lab. His expertise is in designing, manufacturing and operating advanced vehicles. Present research focuses on:
– high-speed boats, slamming testing, new structural concepts (steel-composite hybrids), and new vehicle concepts for drastically improved ride (Suspension boats),
– unmanned aircraft for high altitude dynamic soaring,
– unmanned boats for characterizing waves, as well as for harbor patrol and riverine operations,
– unmanned aircraft that can be launched from a cannon.
Since joining Lehigh’s faculty in 2000 he has used composites in the development of innovative designs, from ship hulls to skis to record-breaking streamliners.

As you can see, Dr. Grenestedt is a very accomplished individual. Even though he emphasizes a significant amount on research, he also teaches some very interesting courses like Fundamentals of Aircraft Design which is a course necessary for the Aerospace Minor.

I personally have never had him but have heard many things about him and I cant wait until next year when I am a junior and I am able to learn from this man. Again, not everyone has the opportunity to learn from someone who breaks world records; so why not take this opportunity?