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.



  1. It’s so cool that you discovered engineering at such a young age! Don’t sound so unsure of your coop, it’s great in it’s own way. I really like the border of your window it looks cute.

  2. I agree about having trouble with measurements, my group and that too haha. I love how you described how you’ve kind of been around and exposed to engineering your whole life and I think it’s great you are still continuing it!

  3. Funny, your experience totally shows in your coop. I also was looking forward to Msel engineering since the moment I walked into the shop on shadow day. Remember the third year engineering class that made that Iron Man suit?

  4. Really Great blog Ben. I enjoyed reading about your experience in this class, as mine has been somewhat similar. It was interesting to see what you had done beforehand and how it shaped what you did this year.

  5. Great job Ben! I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you on our chicken coop this year. Although we may have deviated from our plans more frequently than we’d like to admit, I think we have created a pretty cool product!

  6. I loveed the video, it’s so funny because you are so small! I like how you related your coop experience to previous experience with engineering. Your coop looks great and I can’t wait to see the end result

  7. Thats so cool that you found your passion at such a young age! your coop is looking great and all group have definitely made stupid silly mistakes that make a big difference, but can be fixed. i hope you and your old friends keep in touch and design some cool stuff. I love the video!!

  8. I agree with that the walls and floors were a breeze but for sure my group made a bunch of little mistakes that caused us to have to re-do a couple things. Im jealous of you and wish I had started building sooner.

  9. i loved this ben! I agree, this class is my therapy, it is what keeps me sane. I’ve always been impressed with your ability to build (flashback to our very first lead project!) but I never knew the extent of your experience until now–wow! Thanks for always letting me randomly borrow your hammer or tape measure.

  10. I think its cool that you still find yourself learning after all these years of building and tinkering. Your projects seem really cool! Im looking forward to seeing your coop all finished!

  11. It’s so cool that you’ve been building things since you were young. It must have been tough to not have a class like this freshman or sophomore year. Your coop looks great and I’m really excited to see the finished product!

  12. Ben, that little car thing your were talking about looks so cool! Did it end up working? It has been really cool having you and your group as a neighbor, and for a while your coop looked like it was struggling but you have really turned it around and into a strong, beautiful chicken oasis. Keep it up.

  13. I think we all started off a bit bumpy, but now towards the end it is so nice to see them all come toghether. I think that s is, also, great that you know how important engineering is to you and have kept doing it since you were tiny-Ben, I totally get how therapeutic be after having done it for so long, but WELL DONE, Ben! I

  14. Our group always talks about your group having the smallest coop. It being easy to move was definitely one of the things Ms. O stressed so good job on following directions, I know my group didn’t.

  15. Good job Ben! I really liked the video you were so small. All of your projects you made before this class are super cool and it’s cool that you have been a part of the Maker’s Faire. I can’t wait to see your coop when it’s done.

  16. Nice blog! I didn’t know you used to build all those things and they’re super cool. Your coop is small, but it still looks great and is really well done. I was also a little scared to build the coop because its a big project, but its less stressful than I thought. Excited to see your finished coop!

  17. Great blog Ben! I think it’s really cool that you’ve worked on engineering projects since kindergarten and have been apart of the Maker’s Faire!! I can’t wait to see the final version of your coop!

  18. You’re so tiny in that video!! The stuff you made was so advanced yet its so cool you’re still learning new things in Engineering. Congrats on having the smallest coop, mine is the biggest and I regret it.

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