Absolutely Fantastic Advertisements

It’s a shame that great advertising is hard to come by these days. I’ve been appreciating some of Apple’s more recent ads such as the iPad and iPhone TV spots below. But what really prompted this blog post is this perfect 1981 LEGO ad. This ad is not trying to be flashy or “appeal” to a certain demographic; rather, it is showing me something that really matters, something that everyone can relate to, something that is human. It feels incredibly genuine and conveys the ethos of why LEGOs were ever invented in the first place. Bravo!

A Story About The Community Cabinet

I submitted a brief story about the Community Cabinet to a new organization called Peers, which advocates for the Sharing Economy. They ran the story on their blog, posted it on their Facebook, and then it got shared by the Story of Stuff Project which has a huge following, and so the story got shared another near 200 times! Pretty cool how quickly good things propagate through that series of tubes!

See the original blog post here: http://peersorg.tumblr.com/post/61502788316/the-community-cabinet-a-few-years-ago-i-had-a

FarmBot – Humanity’s Open-Source Automated Precision Farming Machine

It has been over two and a half years since I had this idea and it wasn’t until now that I got everything down into one place. I introduce to you: FarmBot, humanity’s open-source automated precision farming machine, presented in a 53 page white paper. Please enjoy, and share it with all who may be interested in this potentially game changing technology! And visit go.farmbot.itwiki.farmbot.it, and blog.farmbot.it.

Post College Goals

Over the past 5 years getting my BS in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly, I have learned so many things about engineering, technology, design, and challenges we stand to solve in this world. Through the time I have spent having diverse experiences, conversations, and time to read, research, and think about ideas, I may have found a few things that I am really, really passionate in doing in my life. I have learned so much in the past 5 years, especially about who I am, and where I want to fit in in this world.

I want to make a difference. A big one. I want to help solve some of the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time. I want to accomplish this primarily through technology based ventures that have wide reaching effects. I can’t say that one or even a few specific fields are where I am most interested, as I am interested in most all of them! What matters is that no matter which field I am working in or what exactly the project is, I am working to solve some large challenges in my own unique way that I believe in.

Solving the following challenges (that are in no particular order) may sound like I am just a dreamer, thinking of a far off utopia, and that is true. But hey, moonshots matter, and doing incremental work just doesn’t interest me. I want to rebuild things from the ground up, take a new approach, do what nobody else has done or even thinks is possible. This is the approach my role models such as Elon Musk, David and Tom Kelley, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Steve Jobs take, and I want to follow in their footsteps.

  1. How might we feed everyone healthy, organic, and sustainably produced food while building the health of our soil and our ecosystems?
  2. How might we transport ourselves in a fast, safe, affordable, efficient, convenient, and environmentally friendly manner?
  3. How might we live sustainably with modern conveniences in a manner that is resilient to failures and disasters?
  4. How might we derive and use energy and resources in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way?
  5. How might we govern ourselves in a transparent, fair, and equitable manner?
  6. How might we form communities that are more unified?
  7. How might we provide quality education for everyone?
  8. How might we create opportunity and abundance for everyone, allowing more self actualization?
What projects and ideas do I have in the pipeline that are working towards theses goals? Well, a lot. And they are going to take a LOT of work to make any impact. In fact, so much work that I will probably not ever have enough time to work on them all. But here are a few – the ones that I am working on the most right now.
  • FarmBot – A reincarnation of TRAG systems that is open-source and built for hackability and scalability. This project is tackling challenge 1, 3, 4, and 8 above. This is my main focus.
  • OpenFarm – A free and open database for farming and gardening knowledge, built to power FarmBot. This is my secondary focus.
  • Bike Med Kit – Helping to make bike riding more accessible. This is tackling challenges 2,6, and 8 above.
  • Pods – Essentially a super efficient roller coaster designed for public transportation. This is tackling challenges 2, 3, 4, and 8 above.

Senior Project Closing Remarks

I just finished off the closing remarks on our senior project report. Can’t believe after 9 months it’s almost over.

The engineering process of design, build, test, and report that we have gone through over the last 9 months has been an exciting, creative, difficult, interesting, frustrating, fun, rewarding, and educational experience. The international and interdisciplinary aspects of our team combined with the technical rigor and manufacturing feat of building two complete wheelchairs pushed our team to excel beyond the expectations of many, including ourselves. There were times of doubt, worry, and plain unhappiness, but we pushed through them, believing we would find success. And success we found.

From the standing ovation we received from the Industrial Advisory Board, to the first time we launched the chair in the ocean at Avila Beach, to the time we frantically redesigned component assemblies at the hardware store just an hour before the exposition, to when we first successfully linked the Munich seat with our frame, each and every milestone has kept our heads held high, propelling us to keep moving forward.

We have come a long way from our early prototypes and concept models to the final product we have now. Looking back, we laugh at some of the ideas we had and continue to question many of the elements of the current design. But what we recognize is that at the time, each decision felt right and was valid with the information at hand. Each idea, each iteration, each “a-ha!” and “uh-oh…” moment we have had was a necessary step to get where we are today. And perhaps this is the biggest lesson we have learned: that design is not a one step process, but an iterative and collaborative process that takes a lot of time, effort, and persistence. Though we had all experienced this lesson to some degree in our other courses, senior project has been the cementing factor to instill this knowledge in all of us.

It’s hard to believe after the 9 months working on this project that it’s finally coming to a close. Though the chair is not perfect by any stretch, we feel satisfied in where we are leaving it; we have never felt more successful than now. Thank you Bridge II Sports for the project inspiration and guidance. Thank you to our sponsors: Gates, Wheeleez, Zitec, Elite Metal Finishing, and Bike On. Thank you Kevin for the welding. And thank you Dr. Widmann and Dr. Maurer for your support, humor, patience, and advice. It’s been fun.

– Team SandCrawler: Rory, Josh, Sam, Alex, Alexa, Max, Bene, Marvin, and Marco