Last spring I joined Viterbi Makers, a club on campus where groups build year or semester-long electronics projects in fields such as Internet of Things, embedded systems, and robotics.
Joining Makers last semester was such a rewarding experience. While I am a mechanical engineering student, and a lot of members of Makers are electrical engineers or computer engineering and computer science students, Makers has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about electronics and get to utilize some of the concepts I have learned so far in my mechanical engineering courses. I’m super interested in robotics and other electronics-related projects and wanted to have the opportunity to learn more about these topics throughout my time at USC. Additionally, working with engineers from other disciplines has been super rewarding and I’ve been able to learn a lot.
Last semester, I worked with the Heat Press team. We built a heat press, which is a machine that applies heat and pressure to imprint a design on fabric. There was a lot more to work on than I anticipated. When designing our heat press, we had to research requirements for pressure, heat, force, time, and materials. For our final design, we ended up having an airbag made out of duct tape inflate to apply the pressure needed to transfer the design. Also, I was able to go to campus and work in the outdoor section of the Baum Family Maker Space to assemble our design!
Makers also had an in-club Makeathon last semester, which was really fun. We received a kit with a bunch of electronics, like an Adafruit Clue, LEDs, and many different kinds of sensors, including a flame sensor, heartbeat sensor, and a humidity sensor. I also got to work with a small group for the Makeathon, and it was a really great opportunity to meet and interact with other members of the club. My team was interested in wearables, so we planned to make a wearable audio amplifier for a guitar with an audio visualizer. I was able to work on the audio visualizer using Python, a programming language I had never used before. It was super awesome to be able to do a low-stakes, fun project.
Overall, Makers is a super fun and rewarding club filled with funny, smart, and dedicated people. In addition to the technical aspect, Makers also frequently has fun social events like Geoguessr, Among Us, and Pokemon tournaments. The executive board also routinely has office hours to give help with technical resources or professional development. I always enjoy our general body meetings and getting to meet different people from the club.
Finally, one bit of advice I would give to students looking to get involved is to not be intimidated by clubs that have an application process. I know I was at first, but applying to Makers has been an amazing experience for me and I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t applied.
Clubs like Makers are some of the coolest opportunities at Viterbi. Makers has given me the opportunity to explore my interest in robotics and electronics in an amazing, supportive, and collaborative environment.