Summer Circus by Chris M. '12
but like a nerd circus. So you know, less elephants and more calculus. Just as much popcorn though.
I have a problem (well, likely more than one, but let’s not focus on the others!). Sometimes I go through these periods where I end up doing so much cool great fantastic stuff, that it becomes tough to blog because I have no idea where to start (I know, I know. It’s a tough life). Invariably, the answer has always been “dive in somewhere and it’ll work itself out” but that’s a tough philosophy to motivate yourself on. As astute readers may have picked up on, this is one of those times, as my summer has been fortunate enough to so densely packed with awesome things, it’s been nigh un-un-packable. So here’s my shot at giving you the blog equivalent of the hilights reel.
To start things off, I’m working in the new Media Lab building this summer, building an all-electric car designed to completely pwn all existing and soon-to-be existing electric cars as far as interurban transportation is concerned. The group is called the SmartCities group, and our car, the CityCar has received a lot of press over the years from the LabCAST podcast, a few museum exhibitions, news coverage etc. The project has been around since 2003 and the overall design has more or less been totally refined. Now it’s a matter of actually building and tweaking components to get everything to work like it does in the drawings. And you know, try not to make it cost a bajillion dollars.
My stake in the whole thing is general mechanical design, specifically as it pertains to our adorable half-scale prototype. Right now I’m working on redesigning the wrist joints that allow it to turn in place, and then we’ll be doing a complete design overhaul to pull out together all the hacked-solutions into one more refined package. It’s a great job for me, as it’s goal-oriented and less “how many hours are you in the office” based, so I can work from 0200-1600 one day, or 0900-1700 the next.
So if work is so much fun, what can I possibly do when I’m not working? The answer is all the stuff I wish I had time to do during the school year! (I’m getting much much better at time management, but that’s deserves it’s own entry). As of July 1st, I’m currently competing in a high-stakes race through classics of literature available through the Gutenberg press with my friend Michelle. Ok maybe “high-stakes” is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a ton of fun, and I get to read all the books I’ve always heard good things about. Our current list is:
-War of the Worlds
-The Time Machine
-The Last of the Mohicans
-The Count of Monte Cristo
-Phantom of the Opera
-A Tale of Two Cities
-The Call of the Wild
I also went on a rock climbing trip with the MIT Outdoors Club to Rumney in New Hampshire. The MIT Outdoors Club (or MITOC for short) has a ton of outdoors equipment for doing practically anything you could want to do outside. Ice-climbing, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, skiing––basically, if modern civilization has tried hard to eliminate your need to do it, we can fuel your regression. The club even has two surprisingly nice cabins in New Hampshire available for rental. And the prices are incredibly cheap. All the gear you could want for a weekend trip could be rented for much less than $30.
The other club I’m involved with is MITERS, or the MIT Electronic Research Society. The name is a bit of a misnomer since we do far more than just research electronics. When I came to MIT, I had fanciful dreams of building crazy hair-brained contraptions that were as much for entertainment as they were for practicality. MITERS is the birthplace of those inventions. My friend Charles transformed a shopping kart into a go-cart that was featured in Popular Science. Lots of MITERS alumni have gone on to do some cool things related to the advancing the DIY-hacker-culture. MAKE magazine? MITERS alums. Instructables? MITERS alums. Squid Labs? MITERS alums. Our mailing list is filled with a ton of people with a collective library of valuable experience and expertise in building anything you could imagine. There’s been microwave-transformer welders, electric rollerblades, pocket-sized braille making machines, cotton-candy guns, just to name a few. The space has tons of resources for tinkering, including oscilloscopes, lathes, drill presses, soldering irons, etc. And once you attain the illustrious rank of keyholder, you too can spend your whole weekend there!
So as it turns out, MIT is not just a great place to be during the school year (gotta remind myself of that during finals week), but also a pretty great place to be during the summer. Even if it is a bit like a circus around here.