Tuesday, May 7, 2013

UMN Semester 2 - Learn and Earn

Earlier this semester I quit my job at the Nova Module Factory at the U. I feel like I don't get a lot out of it, doing labour for 10 hours a week without gaining anything. Sure, the first few days you get to know the factory and the process, the chemicals they use but that's about it. Looking back now, I am sure I made the right decision. Engineering is so much more than just work! 

The biggest thing this semester is that I am now involved with the most awesome bunch of engineers ever - at the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project. As a (Mystical Council of) Aerodynamics team member, I got to oversee the whole process of making a solar car shell, from the initial mold cutting at Cirrus, Duluth, to sanding, to carbon fibre layups at the Delta Composite Shop at MSP Airport. 

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And of course there’s the design part! Slowly but surely I am picking up CAD skills along the way, designing the ventilation system for the new car. Here’s my baby project on the solar car. It conforms to the geometry of the solar car, since it is to be attached to the shell!

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One thing I regret is not being able to join the team on our car, Daedalus’ trial run at the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin TX this June as I am involved with an internship back home. All the best to my team!


Back in February I promised myself that if I can be involved in a new project, I will get out of Nova. UMNSVP doesn’t count since I am already involved from last Fall. Well, the new project came in the form of Ad Astra – the ‘open’ team for the Wisconsin Regional Launch Competition’!

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Formed just two months ago with a bunch of aerospace engineering students at various levels in their studies, we managed to piece together a rocket that flies to 2690 ft! From design phase to construction to competition day, every week there’s something new to do. It also opens me to the world of high-power rocketry, something I never even dream of back home.

For the launch, four members of the team including me travelled for 5 hours to Milwaukee, WI. In the middle of spring, that launch weekend was especially pleasant to us who was in 5 straight months of Minnesota winter. The competition is to get the rocket as close as possible to 3000ft, with the accepted range in between 2500-3500 ft. Our rocket achieved 2690ft, still lower than our simulated height but we were satisfied. To everyone and especially our team lead, Chris – great job, guys!


Looking back at the semester, I am indeed glad that I made that choice. Although it does make my semester all the more hectic and tiring, the effort was worth it, and it opens new doors to more exciting projects! Although I can’t wait for this semester to end right now.

This summer I’ll be back in Malaysia with an internship in a local aerospace company. I am looking forward to learn and do more engineering! Wish me luck!