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Engineering Student | Programmer | Hacker

New Year, New Projects

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Looking back, I really thought that 2018 was a great year for academics and making things in general. I was able to learn more about electronics and programming by observing skills from my friends at school. I engaged in more projects and participated in my first hackathon. While 2018 has already faded away from sight, I believe there is, even more, to come in 2019.


The Makerspace

Image courtesy of Wentworth Institute of Technology


Did you check out Wentworth’s new academic building? Well, it’s a big one and now open to all students. While floors two to four are mostly classrooms, the first floor is something to be treasured. I call it the maker’s holy grail.

To make a long story short, Wentworth’s Accelerate, an organization that specializes in startups, has moved. That new home is the all mighty Makerspace that faces the quad.


Image courtesy of Accelerate


There is a reason why I’ve been dying with anticipation for the building to open. You may have heard of the term Makerspace before. They are building workshops for anyone, whether they are engineers, programmers, or even artists. These spaces will provide tools and components for a variety of projects, whether it’s a mini snack machine that takes bitcoin, or a pet robot dog. This should motivate me to spend my free time there as I plan to work on fun projects over the semester.


An electronics workstation.


I’m also excited about the 3D printers we’re getting for the Makerspace and Manufacturing Center. Not only there are two Makerbot Replicators, but some top of the line metal printers from Stratasys. I guess we can build rockets now in the facility alone.


More Hackathons

So yes, I not satisfied with doing one Hackathon every year. I guess HackWITus was not enough to fulfill my hacking needs. Luckily, I live in one of the most tech-oriented cities in the country. So Naturally, Harvard and MIT have their own Makeathons. Well, one of my goals for 2019 is to go to as many Hackathons and Makeathons as I can. I’ve realized they are one of the best ways to gain experience and make connections with other students and potential employers.


MakeHarvard

One of the biggest Makeathons I’m already looking forward to is MakeHarvard 2019. Not only I’ve been accepted to participate, but already have a team with an idea. I’m not going to give spoilers, but it has something to do with boats.

This is Harvard’s second annual Makeathon. This is not to be confused with Hack Harvard, which has been going on for quite some time. Hopefully, this video can give you a taste of the maker’s atmosphere. While it’s only a few weeks from now, I am eager to meet students from different schools.


Others

While MakeHarvard will be one of the biggest events, there are other Hackathons in my lineup for the spring semester. Before then, I will be in Worcester for HACK@WPI, WPI’s annual hackathon. This isn’t too close to Harvard’s date as it will give me time to focus on academics. Right now, I don’t have a team or friends from my school to go with. I guess most students will form teams during the event. This will give me a chance to step out of my comfort zone.

Another one is MakeMIT, which follows a month after Harvard. I guess it’s similar to MakeHarvard as there is a distinction with HackMIT. You also have to apply and be accepted, which won’t happen till the 16th of January. So fingers crossed I guess.

I will still look for more that won’t interfere with my school work. The main problem is that these Hackathons, especially MLH ones, happen around the same time frame. Not to mention that winter is not as big of a Hackathon season as the fall. As always, I will write a blog entry for each Hackathon I attend.


Side projects

Well, I did title this entry “New Year, New Projects” after all. As my classes become less fundamental, I am trying to put my gained knowledge into action. One of my goals is to learn more web development. I’m diving into some frameworks such as Bootstrap. I will say, it makes my web pages look nice. A project that I worked on over winter break is a text-to-speech generator that uses an announcement system from one of my favorite video games of all time. Click here or the caption to use the app. I will warn you, it’s still a work in progress.


VOXGen: Speech parser using HTML and Javascript


I’m also trying to build some robots this year. I’m going to start with the classic rover. Expect with one difference. It will incorporate the new Particle Boron. This is a special micro-controller that connects to cellular towers for sending and receiving data. I will also put as many sensors and servos on it as I can. The goal is to have a personal assistant at my house that I can control on-campus. I have attempted a simple Arduino rover before. That fun experience of setting everything up is prompting me to get back into robotics.


A simple RC rover controlled by an Arduino Uno.


More to Come

There are many benefits of being a maker. Not only you are gaining experience with engineering and programming, but it’s almost expected of you. I recently toured Amazon Robotics and iRobot to make connections for a potential Co-op. Both of these companies have one thing in common, they actively encourage a maker culture. They want to take students who are engaged in projects outside of ordinary school work. If you did not read everything else, read this.

Keep making things. There are now more opportunities than ever before to be apart of a community of builders, tinkerers, hackers, Etc. I’m starting to find a sense of belonging in the student maker community. I can’t wait to meet interested people just like me in 2019.