L-R: SHINE students Sarah, Skyler, Phoebe, Chloe, Tobias and Brody.
Ph.D. mentor Ashrant with SHINE students.
Each Friday, we at SHINE highlight on a particular branch of engineering in workshops designed to show SHINE students the diversity of the field. And speaking of lights, the SHINE students on Friday, July 13, 2018, received an introduction to the foundations of Civil Engineering by Ashrant Aryal, a Ph.D. Student in Dr. Burcin Bercerik-Gerber’s lab and former SHINE mentor. Ashrant immediately challenged the students to apply those foundational skills in the engineering of a light programmed to automatically turn on when darkness falls.
The SHINE students did this through brief introductions to soldering, a centuries old metalworking skill, and Arduino, a computer hardware and software system that can be programmed to sense and control environments.
L-R: SHINE students Bryan and Oscar
L-R: SHINE students Brian and Evan
Using the two skills in tandem and an array of materials like sensors, LED lights, wires, and wire-cutters, the SHINE cohort split up into teams to create their lights. This was no easy task; each team had to design, code for, and literally build the Civil Engineering staple.
Soldering came more naturally to some teams. Others excelled at coding the Arduino unit. But each team drew on the strengths of its individual members to complete the challenge and turn on and then control the lights.
Ashrant wrapped up the workshop by reminding students how important it is to engineer environments suited for people’s particular needs, a topic he is pursuing in in his Ph.D. research.
Now when the SHINE students witness a streetlight turning on at dusk, they will know what it takes to build such technology themselves. All they need are a few materials, teamwork, and the resilience to keep trying!