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Random Walk: Jousting Mechanical Beasts

ENGS 146 project: jousting mechanical beast
Photograph by Douglas Fraser.

Jousting mechanical beasts took over the Dartmouth Green one afternoon during Spring Term as a test of the creative powers of students in ENGS 146: Computer-Aided Mechanical Engineering Design. Building pedal-powered machines that can walk rather than roll was the latest brainchild of Professor Solomon Diamond ’97 Th’98, who previously had ENGS 146 students design, build, and race twist cars and diwheels. This year’s class project featured “multifaceted technical challenges—leg linkage design, drive system, steering system, complex chassis, and the need to support a rider,” he says. His TAs, Hunter Black ’15 Th’16 and Lillian Huang’15 Th’16, dubbed the machines beasts and turned the end-of-course competition into a medieval jousting tournament. Transitioning from indoors to outdoors proved too much for four of the five student teams. “All five teams actually had walking beast prior to the tournament. They all worked on the level floor in the Atrium. This is really impressive for the level of project difficulty and diversity of mechanical engineering solutions devised by the students,” Diamond says. “The rough and uneven gravel paths on the Green made it much harder, though, and brought out various levels of mechanical failures in all but one beast. Every problem encountered was addressable, so there was a high level of accomplishment overall, and this would have been on full display if the teams had iterated to debug all the issues prior to the tournament day. Dartmouth terms are short, however, and so some of this iteration occurs in the form of transmitted knowledge when former students become TAs the following year. This cycle provides both experiential learning and learning from the experiences of peers.”

Categories: Random Walk

Tags: design, faculty, projects, students

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