Other Projects

Building a Cord Grabber

I am a teaching assistant for a freshman design course, and the room is filled with retractable outlets like the picture shown below.

These outlets are made to hang within arm’s reach but there are so many of them in the design room that it looks like a jungle to have so many cords hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, the class resorted to using the modified trekking pole shown below which required a difficult and intricate maneuver to grab the cord with.

With all of the 3D printers in the design room I decided to build a much more effective cord grabber myself. After creating some rough drafts and measuring the dimensions of the cord, I quickly created a 3D model and sent it to the printer. Before the end of the day, we had a cord grabber attached to a pole that worked exceedingly well.

Building a Shelf for my Bed

Due to space constraints in my dorm room sophomore year, I resorted to creating various shelves around my room. My bed was lofted to increase the floor space, which made it difficult to reach things from my bed.  Early on in the year, I created a ledge to put my clock and phone, along with a water bottle holder and a hook for my glasses case.

I also constructed a simple shelf out of cardboard in my closet. These creations are quite simple in nature but proved to be very useful to me and my room.

Later in the year, I decided to create a more durable and universal support structure for my bed. I brainstormed ideas, created sketches, and came up with a concept to attach a wooden shelf to the upper rails attached to my bed. Below are images of the final creation after I added a Duke theme to it. The picture shows the shelf attached to my roommate’s bed for clarity, but it was similarly able to attach to my bed which was a lot higher off the ground.


The shelf served me well and was very stable. It could even support my microwave.


Rube Goldberg Machine

In my first semester Freshman year, I took the gateway course of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate, Engineering Innovation. For the final project of the year, I was tasked to build a Rube Goldberg machine in a team of twelve. For the project, we had to use nine pieces of circuitry to activate mechanisms throughout the track. The project involved a ton of coordination and we encountered many setbacks along the way. In the end, we managed to create a functional product that we were very proud of.

Our team’s theme was movies, and my mechanism’s component was in the style of Pirates of the Carribean. For my mechanism, I sought out to make a pressure activated cannon which would launch the ball to the next component of the system. After much planning and prototyping, I created a wooden base on which I attached a motor to rotate a wheel. Here is a view of the underside of the base

The concept was to create a spring loaded cannon which would be released by having the motor pull out a locking mechanism. I built a functional launcher and attached it to the top of the wooden base. The video below shows the motor enabling the cannon to fire electrically.

The next step was to create a pressure sensor which would activate the motor. My teammate Blake helped me to build the circuitry, and after many iterations, I was confident in my design. Here is a video of the ball successfully launching into the next stage of the track.

Because there were so many components to our Rube Goldberg Machine, each part had to have an extremely high success rate in order for the system to work consistently. In the end, we decided to create a larger funnel system to increase our confidence level in the launcher’s success rate.

The final steps were to create the track that would drop the ball into the cannon and to decorate the cannon so that it reflected the theme. Below are pictures of the final product, both functional and visually appealing. I was very proud of my creations, and it was very rewarding to see the launcher work in front of the whole class.