Any Problem is Solvable with Ingenuity
“Oh great, eight hours a day of fetching coffee and entering numbers into a database”. It was my first day of working a full time internship at a local company named SeekTech Incorporated; a local company which designs and manufactures pipeline diagnostic tools. However, to my surprise I was greeted with my own office complete with computer, phone line, and shelf space. By now it was apparent that I would be venturing into uncharted territory and designing things that nobody had ever created. While working, solving complex problems was more than just a brief moment every once and a while, it was an everyday occurrence. I used the latest technology in engineering tools - Such as SolidWorks and three dimensional printers - in accordance with college level geometry and math in order to tackle the challenges I faced. However, being able to take a problem and be able to transform it into a usable product is just a broad overview of what the whole process entailed.
One of my first challenges was to take a tiny cell phone motor that spun an eccentric mass in excess of 15,000 revolutions per minute – which is normally used to alert its user of a phone call, or text message - and transform it into usable mechanical energy. This concept seemed impossible. How can you possibly take tiny vibrations and; for example, spin a wheel on a toy car? To prove the concept I created a disk that would spin whenever these cell phone vibration motors were turned on. It almost seemed illogical to test such a concept, but with a few key strokes in SolidWorks - a 3D computer design program - and the pressing of a big button labeled “print” on one of the company’s four 3D printers, I was able to create a prototype in a mind blowing amount of time. These machines can print out complex parts in a matter of hours, compared to weeks if machined traditionally. After completing the assembly of my prototype it was time to test; I had low hopes for this test because the concept just didn’t make sense to me. However, if there was a time to speak too soon, it was that moment; to my surprise the disk spun at a blurring rate. At this point I was confident that “any problem is solvable with ingenuity”.
Once it had been proven that these cheap, micro motors could be used to create mechanical energy, all that was left was to understand the physics behind the concept and create a prototype of a product that could be used in real life. This is where the use of normal planes, matrices, dot products, and vectors came into play. The whiteboard in my office was filled with countless letters, symbols, numbers and formulas that made me dizzy when looking at it. If I was going to understand what was going on I would have to teach myself math that I had vaguely seen before in my life. Over the course of three days my project partner and I analyzed the data and persevered through the thick of it. It was a challenge but in the end I was able to create an accurate mathematical model of what exactly was going on in my prototype. It made me feel invincible, like I could do anything.
Going through this design process enlightened me about the real world. I always wondered if there would ever be a solution to pollution, or to cancer. After tackling a seeming impossible task; I can say that there is no validity to the phrase “Everything worth inventing has already been invented”. I realize that there is more to invent; more to create in the world and truly with a little bit of ingenuity there isn’t one problem in the world that cannot be solved.