Engineer by day, Superhero by night — Amazing all the time

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Library of Congress Data ViewerThere are a lot of different fields within mechanical engineering, but the one that I’m most interested in is engineering design. This last spring term, a professor at BYU sponsored a research project looking at historical trends in engineering design publications. I applied and was selected to be on the team of three.

Basically, we gathered and analyzed data from the Library of Congress and identified some major trends in engineering design publications. We created a video (below) to show our findings. The video’s not the best quality, but I only had a week to do all the filming (with an inexpensive camcorder and no external microphone… Sorry!), get the photos, put in all the effects with the graphs, and do all the editing. But I still think it turned out pretty well:

The History of Engineering Design (according to the Library of Congress)

The Library of Congress provides an API to facilitate search queries of its database. This API (implemented through a number of different REST webservices) allows a user to perform a search query and retrieve the query results. I wrote a script to consume these webservices and obtain the information we desired. I even used some multi-threaded programming in the script. It would monitor its own progress, and as appropriate, spawn new threads to asynchronously process multiple search queries at the same time. AWhen the work-load became too much for the network and/or computer to handle, threads were killed off as the results were processed. Since the data was all stored in a central location, multiple instances of the script could be run simultaneously, if desired, even on different computers. Even still, it took a few days to get all the data we needed.

In all, we obtained over 150,000 books published on the topic of engineering design, but only about 100,000 of them had a known publication date and a publication language. I built a quick data viewer that uses Google’s Charts API to quickly show the results, accessible at http://loc.travisvanderson.com.

It was a really fun project to work on, and I really learned a lot!

Written by Travis Anderson on June 21st, 2011 , Mechanical Engineering, Software Development Tags: ,

This last semester I took a product development class. The first week of class, we were divided into design teams and given the task to design an improved model of a Hitachi impact driver such that it would fill some unmet market needs.

My design team decided to create a new cordless hand power tool capable of drilling holes, driving screws, and hammering nails, all with a single device. The operating function is changed simply by changing from a drill or screw bit to a specially designed hammer bit. After creating our design, we had to manufacture a functional prototype, which actually works surprisingly well!

The technology we developed is pretty cool (if I do say so myself :) ). It changes from a rotational motion to a back-and-forth hammering impact just by changing the bit. The Technology Transfer Office at BYU has started the process of filing for a provisional patent and then they will present our design to manufacturers. If any of them bite, we’ll work out a licensing deal for them to lease our technology.

Hammer-Drill Video Demonstration on YouTube

It has been a really fun project to work on! I learned a lot, and am really excited and happy about our results!

Hammer-Drill Storyboard