This past week has been a celebration of engineering in the annual E-Week! There are many advancing technologies in this current age, and like any other engineer, I am looking to contribute. Aside from the interesting labs in my Mechoptronics course, I have also gained valuable insight from working with the members of the Rocket Propulsion Laboratory both in machining and in design.
As a Junior, I spend a full year studying a course known as Mechoptronics Laboratory in which it combines Mechanical, Optical, and Electronics into one application. A recent experiment involved in identifying an unknown signal. This was done all from a text file and lines of Matlab. It is quite amazing to break down a signal unto its inherent characteristics and exploit them to generate a power spectrum required for identification. The lab section itself was designed so you could collect the raw data and then afterwards process it as you saw fit. This required some planning in terms of how the data would be collected and certain considerations such as how to prevent signal aliasing and where the Nyquist frequency would occur. This lab really increased my understanding of signal generation and propagation as well as my Matlab capabilities, both of which I anticipate using throughout my career.
While in the Rocket Lab, much consideration is designated into stabilizing the vehicle and the aerodynamic profile. One of the most important components being the fins. I have seen the design of the fins, but it was not until I began to machine them, that I truly gained an appreciation for the precision and delicacy involved–Fin & Traveler FIN LE . The dimensions from the Solid Works model have small tolerances and each cut must be precise and deliberate. It is very rewarding to have a physical component to show for after a long day!
The lessons from each of these experiences will remain with me as I begin my internship at Northrop Grumman Corporation this summer. They are working on some fascinating projects like the James Webb Telescope! Besides being the largest telescope ever built, it will allow us to explore the realms of space farther than ever before. Who knows, perhaps we are not alone in the Universe after all..