James Nee

Powering Through The Snow
My senior year I was getting a little restless. Much of what I was doing was managerial and theoretical, and I missed the nitty gritty of hands on projects. So, I decided to pick up a project that I had thought about the winter before: an electric screw propelled sled. I had all the basic elements available to me - a 3.8 HP NPC Black Max motor, 2 12V lead acid batteries, access to a laser cutter, and the knowledge to put it all together. The project took me about a month from start to finish, with the bulk of the work taking place during 3 or 4 all nighters. Sadly, the project was a complete bust - the sled design had too much friction and the whole device was more of a snow blower than a sled. Looking back, I would definitely do it again, but instead of building the sled from MDF, I would buy several plastic sleds to serve as feet and mount them to an aluminum sub-frame. The polished surfaces of pre-made plastic sleds would have served me a lot better than a rough, sealed MDF bottom. Though the process was a real test of my time management, I see the POWERSLED project as a culmination of what I had learned at Olin in my four years. The project was scoped well both from a time and budgetary perspective, it integrated mechanical, electrical, and software elements, all to an equally important and challenging degree, and, though the design did not work, it was creative and out of the box.