I first discovered engineering in my Kindergarten class. My teacher had a small tool station and parents or teachers would drop off old and broken electronics or appliances. My dad and I always arrived early because he worked at my school, so I would have the tool bench to myself to explore the tools and machinery. My love only grew through the years as some of my best friends came to also love engineering, largely inspired by their families. We would tinker, join building competitions, and even got our own booth at the Maker Faire.
After we graduated from our K-8 school, we all went our separate ways to high school. We tried to keep in contact and continue our booth at the Maker Faire, but ended up talking less and less until the project fell apart. Here is a picture of the last project we were working on freshman year:
We were working on the steering column here, and the one to the right was designed to pull Water Buffalo ice cream through the Maker Faire (it’s delicious and lactose free!). My love of engineering is what helped me decide on MSEL; during the shadow day I absolutely loved Ms. Oropallo’s class and couldn’t wait for it. Fast forward to this year, and, although I have many years of experience, I still find myself learning new things: how to properly chisel and carve a spoon out of wood, and how to use a table saw. I used a nail gun for the first time, a lifesaver for someone like me who has always been horrible with a hammer and nails. This class has served as a very therapeutic class for me, a break from the normal routine. A class full of doing and with the tangible purpose of making a chicken coop.
My team, Michael, Varian, and myself, has had a slightly bumpy road: some forgotten measurements, silly mistakes and the all too often deviation from the original plans. Despite this, we have come far. Our siding, floors and wall, and our roof are finished, leaving only our nesting boxes, the interior and the windows/doors (now that I’m writing it down it feels like a lot more, but trust me we have been working… mostly). Our coop also has one unique aspect: it’s the smallest. Despite having one of the more boring designs, I am confident that it will be effective, and more importantly, easy to move.
Overall, I would say that the coop building process has been a pleasant one. Starting like any others, the walls and floor were mostly a breeze, and it felt like the coop would be done in no time. Then, when we began siding, it felt like it would take forever. Whenever we started to put on pieces, the nail guns would be in use and we would have the wrong measurements. This lasted a good couple of days until Varian and I got Ms. Oropallo to teach us how to use the table saw. Now Varian will use any excuse to use it, and we got over the siding. Our next task was to make the nesting boxes. It seems that we hadn’t thought of this before, and we ran into many issues with it inside the coop, so we decided to expand it. We began building a 1’ x 4’ extension, which will (hopefully) give the chickens somewhere to lay their eggs while also giving the owners a way to quickly access said eggs.
Despite my experience with the tools and tasks that we do in engineering, I find myself more confident. I had never built anything quite of this magnitude, and the class inspires outside-the-box thinking in other subjects as well. I think that, in the future, I will look back on this class in a similar way that I did to my other projects. I’ll be able to apply these skills forward, perhaps in my next job and certainly in my life. These are skills that are essential to life and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to learn them in depth.