We're a little crazy, about science!

A surprise 3D modeling project

One of the last things I modeled just for fun during my class. Since I can’t share what I’m working on today… not yet anyway (a common theme).

Since I have a policy of brutal honesty around here, I’m not going to lie, it’s been a minute since I seriously did any solid modeling work. I think the last time I tried in earnest to do any sort of solid modeling was for the class I taught… two years ago? So yeah, today will be fun, right we’re using the term fun. I’m okay with lying to myself.

It’s not like I don’t have a lot going on. I’m now working a full time job and trying to get my PhD as quickly as possible, but I also decided to continue mentoring one of the people I’ve been working with for the past three years. She’s graduating this term so it felt right to continue to mentor her until she finished. That meant I was somewhat forced into saying yes to more responsibilities. In particular another project in the lab that my BS and MS fall squarely into, mechanical engineering! Specifically design, but mechanisms is where I do my best work anyway.

When the person I mentor signed up to work in the lab (basically at her first year in college, the kid, I say kid with love, is motivated!) we had a project that needed a significant amount of attention. A project I didn’t particularly want to take on because it would pull me away from the stuff I wanted to learn and frankly I didn’t want to be in the lab for a decade before graduating. So she was given the project, I explained how I would go about doing it, then set her free to work on it.

Fast forward a few years, project is finished (mostly) and everything is looking good. Unfortunately, there are some things that need to be addressed with the project and I brought those up in our weekly meeting. Side note, I meet with everyone I mentor at least every other week, but mostly weekly because it’s important to me to be a good mentor. Anyway we discussed the changes and since she’s been out of the lab for the past week (COVID unfortunately) I told her if she could not do the work I would happily get it done.

Well this morning I got an email asking me to do it because she wasn’t up to getting the work done. Fair enough.

Now, at my best I could get this amount of work done in about an hour. However, like I said it’s been a little bit since I’ve done solid modeling (specifically solidworks), so there is a bit of ramp up. I’m hoping it’s a lot like riding a bike and I’ll be able to get in, get it done, and get out… we’ll see. Oh and shameless plug, if you want to learn to solid model I have a whole free 10 week class for beginners. Not only did I teach it all via solidworks, but I also redid the entire class in free software as well (sketchup). The course was a LOT of time and effort, but I think it came out better organized than most things I write (click here).

This extra work is somewhat my fault, I shouldn’t agree to take on so many projects, but I feel like it’s important, so I say, “sure, why not?” instead of, “nope.” I mean I can’t complain too much, it really isn’t a lot of work, it’s just work and I don’t have the motivation to do work at the moment. Basically it’s just me being lazy.

At this point you may be wondering why I’m sharing this story at all. Well aside from the regular reminder to say no (for me more than anyone reading this, but for you too), I have another fun little announcement. The person I’m mentoring has agreed to write a journal paper on the work she did. We’ll be co-first authoring the paper since it’s been a team effort and I’ll probably be doing the bulk of the writing/editing, but it will hopefully set her up very nicely for here PhD program.

Since this is my last term with her, it’s going to be hard to get everything done before she graduates, but we’ve agreed to keep working on it after she leaves. I’m hopeful that this won’t be another robot paper situation. I actually learned a lot about how people (researchers) perceive design engineering and what not, so I feel like things will go smoother for her than they did for me now that I have that experience. We’ll have to wait and see to know for sure, but I think the advancements she made are worth a journal paper and school-PI agrees, so we’re going to go for it.

This term I’m probably going to be talking a lot about mentoring… let’s call her Kay. While I’m not a PI, this has been my first time mentoring someone for so long, so I feel somewhat responsible for Kay’s progress. I mean she did all the work and is incredibly talented, but I got to mentor her so I’m proud of her success. We’ve worked together to determine her PhD goals and shape what she wants to learn. Actually, that should probably be a post all on its own since there was some important stuff there.

So back to the topic of today, since Kay isn’t feeling well, I’ve got some solid modeling to do. I do enjoy solid modeling, I think it’s fun, so I’ll try to enjoy it. Another aside (since that’s a theme around here), this week is going to be jam packed full of fun progress and stuff going on, so I’m excited to get the chance to share as I go. There’s a lot of promise in this week for progress with projects I’m looking forward to starting.


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