About Ben Chin

Hi! My name is Ben Chin and I am currently a senior studying Information Systems and Marketing at the University of Illinois. I have a huge passion for business analytics, business intelligence, AI, and will be doing technology consulting (like Veronika) full-time after graduation. Outside of that, I love sports especially basketball and I love working out and staying fit!

This is a wrap Maker Lab, you will be missed!

My Expectations and Experience:

To be completely honest walking into Digital Making Seminar, I had relatively high expectations for Badm 395.  However, looking back in retrospect I can know confidently proclaim that all my expectations had been superseded. Originally, I wanted to take Digital Making Seminar because I had very little background knowledge in 3D printing and wanted to gain a more comprehensive understanding of innovative and groundbreaking technology available today. I had envisioned Digital Making Seminar to be class that only encompassed 3D printing and different business solutions that could be formulated from 3D printing, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. This class transcended the provisional scope of my expectations for this class: we covered CAD Software, Circuiting, Arduino and Breadboards, Laser Cutting, Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping and so much more that I will touch upon in just a little bit. Coming into class, I thought Digital Making Seminar would be an excellent opportunity to allow me to gain comprehensive knowledge in the digital world but relatively unrelated to my post graduation plans. However, as I leave class I know realize that everything I learned in Digital Making Seminar is SO APPLICABLE. I will be going full-time in July doing technology consulting and the digital practice in all technology consulting practices are growing exponentially. With all this being said, I can’t wait to have the potential opportunity to explore digital practices within IBM so that I can apply skills that I’ve gained in this class to the workplace enviorment.  Looking back on this class now, I am so glad I took the opportunity to continue to expand my horizons and challenge myself as a second semester senior, make so great friends, and of course take another great class with Professor Vishal who inspired me to become an Information Systems major (and you can’t forget about the pizza either! haha).

My Learning:

CAD Software

In CAD, I learned how to utilize TinkerCad and Fusion 360 software. While difficult at first, I was able to ultimately successfully craft both the tutorial structure as well as my own personalized heel prototype in Fusion 360 after a couple of iterations and failures. While perseverance truly led me to create the prototypes, without the help of Jeff Smith and all his excellent teaching of AutoDesk Fusion 360 there would have been no way I could have accomplished the following two prototypes:

Ben's Heel

Special Water Bottle

Fusion 350 First Take

Circuits & Coding with Arduinos:

The Fab Lab was an absolutely unbelievable experience. The amount that I was able to learn in three weeks was amazing. From never soldering wires before, I was able to not only successfully solder wires but also successfully wire both an arduino board and breadboard to act as a light sensor, with LED lights indicating on a spectrum whether little to a lot light was present within a room. Additionally, I was able to get my hands dirty and do some coding in Arduino to program the arduino to have that specific functionality. While I had a little bit of coding experience in VBA and R previously, Fab Lab really gave me the opportunity to have a 360 degree view of the digital world and all the innovative steps the digital community is striving to make a difference in today’s world.



In Laser cutting and wood engraving, I learned that while the digital revolution is innovative and groundbreaking it’s always imperative to have fun with technology. And, what better way to have fun with wood engraving and laser cutting that to express yourself: Here is my arduino board circuit box with images that best describe myself:


Big Data and Its Implication on 3D printing:

For my own personalized project, I examined how 3D printing and Big Data complemented each other in today’s business world. It was amazing to see what MIT students had accomplished with data visualization and 3D printing. By printing a 3D structure of the campus of MIT and overlaying it with unstructured Twitter Data, so many powerful insights could be drawn on students at MIT:

MIT Picture

Additionally, General Electric was also utilizing Big data to help rapidly prototype some of its turbine engine parts take a look:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.50.29 PM

Innovation By Simplicity:

Through Team Supra’s DoorJar, I learned that innovation doesn’t always have to fall in the category of groundbreaking or new-to-the-world product development. But much rather sometimes, the greatest innovations truly stem from simplicity. For instance, innovation by simplicity yields easy constructability, low costs, and room for continuous improvement without drastically increasing the price. And in turn, commercializing these innovations and bringing them to market they also have a high likelihood of generating profits for a company. And, that is exactly why Team Supra chose to create DoorJar.


Design Thinking & Rapid Prototyping:

Lastly, Design Thinking & Rapid Prototyping are two crucial concepts that I learned in class that will be carried over in my life post graduation. Realizing how design thinking and agile software develop framework (which I was fortunate to work in this summer) go hand in hand was truly a unique experience as well to see how applicable the concepts we were learning in Digital Making Seminar truly applied in the real business world. Rapid Prototyping opens opportunities in manufacturing to medical to renewable energy to software development and so many other industries, and I honestly cannot wait to have an opportunity to utilize rapid prototyping again.


Personal Professional Development & Growth:

Lastly, the greatest thing I learned in this class cannot be quantified by a subject title or concept. But much rather, Digital Making Seminar taught to continually challenge myself, expanding my horizons, and keeping my mind open. I remember all the times I walked into Fab Lab and thought to myself “no way can I solder wires together”, “no way do I know how to circuit arduino board and I definitely don’t know how to code it”, “I have no experience in Fusion 360 of CAD software how can I possibly be good at this?” But it’s because that I had the courage to try and challenge myself that I was able to solder wires, circuit and code and arduino board, and even help build DoorJar’s prototype in TinkerCad. By keeping my mind open in the future and my hunger for learning, there are so many opportunities in life that will be opened for me in my future.

Team Supra Project Reflection – DOORJAR

With only approximately 8 weeks time, Team Supra sought to rapidly research, design, prototype, and bring to life a prototype that would effectively fulfill a business need, bridge a gap in consumer needs, and ultimately turn profitability for a business in the long run.

Ideating Process:

In the Ideating Process, Team Supra wanted to identify a business need in a consumer segment that was comprehensively understood. As Veronika, Olivia, and Ben are all college students, Team Supra decided to evaluate college-aged students who were living on a budget in a house or apartment. After observing consumers’ behaviors for a several days, Team Supra pursue a household trash compactor:



Team Supra agreed that trash is a common college struggle especially with full utilization of trash bags. Thus, Team Supra set out to create a trash compacting device that allows for greater trash bag “storage volume” to be achieved, leading consumers to have cost savings and environmental wellness at a reasonable price. However after receiving feedback from Professor Vishal, we realized that 8 weeks was not enough time to construct a product with numerous variables such as cost, size, and strength.


Refocusing & Designing with Innovation By Simplicity

Team Supra decided to tackle a new problem that commonly occurred at the Maker Lab: faulty door stops. Thinking of all the times students were locked outside the classroom, We challenged ourselves in creating a device that would efficiently ajar the door. With a very complex previous prototype, Team Supra was inclined to develop a resounding solution in a simplistic way. We realized that simplicity yielded easy constructability, low costs, and room for continuous improvement without drastically increasing the price.


We began by taking time to understand and explore the market. It became evident that the vast majority of doorstoppers sold between $5 – 15 (with premium stoppers above $20) and were all made of rubber material. Team Supra also met with Fab Lab to gain criticism on our idea. Fab Lab recommended a product with some form of a base that could attach to the door near the door knob with some form of a sliding mechanism that would allow for the locking position to turn “on and off”. While Team Supra initially hypothesized utilizing magnets to attach our device to the door, Fab Lab’s expertise made it evident that no household friendly magnets would be strong enough to sustain the impact of the door.  Additionally, Fab Lab recommended the employment of a wood coated in rubber resin or semi flex material for the actual stopping block portion of our product.


Prototype One

Using TinkerCad, Team Supra was able to create the following prototype:

First Prototype Team Supra 4.9.17






From our first prototype, we realized we really liked the shape of the base and the handle attached to the base. The handle allowed consumers to easily slide our product from “on to off” and the base could hold our “stopping block”. However, we realized that our first prototype had nothing to prevent the sliding piece from detaching from the base and was too small and brittle ultimately resulting in breakage during testing.


Prototype Two

After analyzing our results of prototype one, we decided to increase the surface area, density of base & block, and overall thickness of our prototype. Additionally, we added a bar to prevent the block from sliding out. And here is a video demonstrating progressive success from our prototype:

IMG_5593 (1)

After achieving progression, Team Supra decided to perform testing to reaffirm the consumer need for our product and also verify the usability and ergonomics of our product.

Quality Assurance and Consumer Testing

Using google forms, we created a consumer experience feedback survey to be completed after the consumer had personally experienced and utilized our prototype two.


Our survey questions centered around the following topics: demographic information, problem solutioning, aesthetics, ergonomics, applicability, durability, and willingness to purchase. Additionally, we realized the necessity in random sampling and ensured our sample had participants of all different years, majors, and household incomes in school. And, our key consumer insights were as follows:

From a scale of Not At All(1) to Absolutely(7), it becomes evident that our whole sample agreed that our prototype solution solved the current business problem.


Additionally, we saw that overall our product was relative easy to use, but there was an opportunity to enhance the attachment experience.




Our participants believed that our prototype could sustain impact from the door as and stay stationary. However, we did see a small discrepancy in Doorjar’s impact sustainability and impact stability (or stationing capability) and realized keeping the prototype base stationed to the door could be an area of improvement.


Lastly, our results show that our subject participants were relatively happy with our product and most were relatively willing to purchase our product at an average price of $7.73.

Prototype 3





In our final prototype, we made the base material out of PLA, printed the block material out of semi-flex, and printed it with a 40% infill. And our final product proved to be even more successful than the previous attempt.

Next Steps & Time Constraints

With only 8 weeks, we were forced to stop our prototyping efforts and prepare for our final presentation and wrap up for this class. However, had we had more time we would have pursued four additional features. Team Supra would have potentially utilized clear plastic or acrylic to enhance aesthetic appeal for Doorjar. Dual functionality would be added giving DoorJar both ajaring and locking functionality. Bluetooth functionality would have been implemented alerting consumers when their doors are fully locked and open and some unique attachments could also have been added to the door.


In terms of bringing DoorJar to market, Team Supra did some due diligence and was able to prove profitability margin of 23.35% with Doorjar. This was derived from a $5.94 cost per unit (PLA and SemiFlex material costs researched and labor, utilities, and building costs estimated) and a $7.75 retail price that was proven through our feedback survey. Lastly, Team Supra segmented its implementation plan into 4 unique categories. Initial Capital Investment would seek funding for our project in order to purchase 3D equipment, hire employees, and pay building costs. Relationship Development with Suppliers would ensure low raw material prices and overall low costs for the product. Commercialization begins the creation of our product seeking for opportunities to cut process inefficiencies, cycle flow time, and identify bottlenecks within the process. Marketing & Sales ensures awareness of the our product and that Doorjar remains successful with a loyal consumer base being relentless built.

Click here for our google slides!!!

Feedback, Prototyping, Feedback, and more Prototyping progress

This week I learned the absolute cruciality of giving and receiving feedback. Through all prototyping processes whether that’s design thinking to agile software development to new product development, rapid prototyping success is contingent on the “rapid feedback-ing”. As Marty Cagan testifies in Silicon Valley Product Group’s Prototype Testing, “testing your ideas with real users is probably the single most important activity” in the prototyping process: and I honestly couldn’t agree more. This week we were lucky enough to receive feedback from Team AquaPonics as well as provide feedback for Team AquaPonics. Here is a clip during our feedback session between the two teams:


Team AquaPonics gave us some great ideas and they were as follows: 1. To create a much stronger structural base. 2. Minimize the vibration the stopping component of our doorstopper experienced. 3. Utilization of either a stronger adhesive or multiple command strips on our prototype base:

Stronger Structural Base

Team Supra realized that dimensions of our prototype structural base had to be increased. By increasing density levels and overall dimensions, Team Supra’s doorstopper would not only have more surface area and density to absorb the initial contact shock from the slamming door but also have more areas to allow for structural fixing through command strips.

Minimizing Vibration

Team Supra decided to minimize vibrations by placing a bar that would allow for snug sliding of the stopping component of our doorstopper. Additionally, this bar would ultimately prevent all further torque that would be generated from door slamming vibrations ultimately allowing for doorstopper stability. Lastly, Team Supra has decided to employ a flex-plastic material allow for shock absorption.

Stronger Adhesive

Team Supra has decided to continue testing with command strips. However, instead of employing one command strip Team Supra will now be taking advantage of the greater sized and stronger structural base.  Team Supra will be placing command strip at optimal points of shock absorptions calculated through comprehensive testing. Multiple command strips placed at optimal focal points will ensure Team Supra’s door stopper a success.

Lastly, Team Supra created a post-consumer experience survey for testing subjects and participants to complete. Team Supra unfortunately had two prints fail in the lab this week. And due to high demand of 3D printing because of many final architecture projects, Team Supra will have testing completed by Tuesday at midnight. Thus, Team Supra is ready to see and hoping for some great results!

And the Prototyping begins…

This weeks class started with an excellent cursory overview of 3D Scanning, taught by Arielle Rausin who is actually a former “alum” of Digital Making Seminar, herself. We had the opportunity to watch the power of 3D scanning go to work on both a student’s watch as well as a student’s whole entire head. The scanning of the watch began to unravel the relentless opportunities 3D scanning could bring to both the business world and everyday human life. For instance, 3D scanning allows any uniquely crafted piece or part of manufacturing to be easily replicated. For instance in the educational and museums industries, 3D scanning can enhance virtual exhibitions, augment exhibitions, and provide physical replicas of statues and historic figures. Even from a project perspective, a simple prototype that any student builds can now be easily scanned and placed into any 3D printing software system (such as Fusion 360). From there that prototype can be easily manipulated and crafted into the desired product of any consumer’s choice. Arielle Rausin did an excellent job of illustrating 3D Scanning and the implications of 3D Scanning. Here is a picture of Veronika and how excited both her and myself were to hear about all the great things happening in 3D scanning:


From here, Team Supra jumped to the atrium and Olivia, Veronika, and I picked right up where we left off from the previous week. Having decided to work on perfecting a doorstopper and making it highly desirable by all consumer, Team Supra envisioned a prototype that would sit in the middle of the door in close proximity to the door handle. From here the door stopper would have some form of a sliding mechanism that allows for the door stopping functionality to “turn on and off.” Additionally, Team Supra recognized an opportunity in the market to generate a doorstopper that was both low costing and universal to all doors in order to maximize the value our product would bring to the consumer. Because of this, Team Supra anticipated a magnet to be placed on both the door and the base of our doorstopper, in order to allow for the flexibility to move this door stopper from door to door.

With all this being said Team Supra decided to pay a visit to Fab Lab in Urbana, and let me just say I am very glad we did. After receiving feedback from full-time employees in the Fab Lab, it became evident that no everyday “consumer-use” magnet would be able to withstand the impact of a slamming door. The only magnets that could would be dangerous for household use. Because of this, Team Supra decided to explore the possibility of utilizing heavy-duty command strips to hold the door stopper in place. Furthermore, Fab Lab recommended the utilization of wood as the physical “stopper for the door.” Our original plan was to utilize metal and coat it in rubber resin. While this is certainly still an option, wood coated in rubber resin would provide the same stopping effect at a much lower cost. From here we took Fab Lab’s excellent constructive feedback and created this model in tinkercad:

First Prototype Team Supra 4.9.17

Click here!
From here, it’s time to get our prototype 3D printed and put together and begin impact testing on our prototype. I’m excited to get back to work this week with the greatest team ever: Team Supra!

Team Supra’s Design and Prototyping Session

March 27th, 2017: What a great day to get right back into 3D printing! After a spring break hiatus of approximately 14 days, it felt great to start small remaining duration of second semester senior year in the maker lab! To be honest, I definitely missed the maker lab as we had not had class there since mid February. Olivia and I had the opportunity to turn on our creative juices this week as we began to design and catalyze initial prototypes for our final semester project.

We decided to revisit our consumer trash-compacting business solution product. Bouncing myriad ideas off each other, Olivia and I spent the first 100 minutes of class drawing different prototypes and documenting ideas on how we wanted our product to be created and what capabilities the end product had to encompass. Team Supra wanted to develop a product that had the following 4 key features: 1. A trash disposing device that is easily reachable by price and desirable by the everyday consumer. 2. A device that compacts trash significantly more than other competitor household trash devices do. 3. This trash compaction allows for significant higher amounts of volume to be stored in one trash bag. And lastly, 4. This “storage volume” saving results in economic savings and “environmental” wellness for the consumer. Through all the brainstorming and prototyping Olivia and I were able to come to following idea. Here is a picture of our prototype:


And this is the motivation for our prototype:



We ultimately envisioned a device that would have natural openings at the top of the trash can for trash disposal. At the very top of the trashcan, a 25 pound weight would sit and be ready to compress trash. This weight would then connect to an “upside down” umbrella like material. Thus when compression took place the “upside down umbrella” would open easily conforming to any trashcan type and shape allowing for universal and dynamic use on different types of trashcans. The weight would descend upon the trash through the utilization of the lever crank on the side of the trashcan. The lever provides the consumer the capability to easily compress and pull back the weight to its original position. As a lever provides torque on the lever and pulley of the weight a consumer would be able to easily compress and release its trash from the lever. Lastly, with the selection of trashcan above placement of the weight would allow for aesthetics and ergonomics. The weight would not get in the way of the consumer when disposing trash. And the weight could easily compress trash and returning to its resting position.

With all this being said, we ecstatically presented our idea to Professor Vishal and received some excellent feedback. While our product certainly solved the business problem at hand, our prototype was already begin to demonstrate the infeasibility to reach the proper price point and generate enough demand we desired. In order to reach the everyday consumer, our trash device had to be a product price of a maximum of maybe $20 (accounting for switching costs and over valuation of old products of current consumers). With that being said, the complexity of our product was already demonstrating high costs that may potentially already superseded $20. Thus, it was became evident that our product would most likely not be able to retail at $20. Additionally, the trash market is heavily saturated already. While our idea certainly provides an innovative way to compress trash, maximize trash bag effectiveness, and allow consumers to cut costs and be more environmentally friendly, what is going to stop a consumer from simply using a dirty mop to compress trash on their own? With that being said, Professor Vishal recommended us explore new ideas as we were still in the prototyping stage.

And, I think this is one of the greatest aspects of design thinking and rapid prototyping. It gives flexibility to fail early, make the mistakes now, learn from mistakes, and start over. And that’s exactly what we did. With only a few minutes left in class, Olivia and I searched through our brainstorming thoughts and identified a new idea to design and prototype. We decided to recreate the door stop with enhanced functionality to if you may “master” the door stop. Analyzing current door stoppers, we realized the biggest issue they face is that they’re not durable and over time they do not hold the door. With this, we saw an opportunity to create a door stopper that would ultimately sit in the middle of a door as opposed to the ground. View image below:


It would be made of out very strong material for increased durability, slide back and forth for easy door stopping capabilities, and be made of a clear and transparent material allowing aesthetic appeal.  While this concept may seem fairly simple, Team Supra plans to take this idea and run with it giving it the best functionalities possible at the lowest cost possible, and making it dynamic so it can become an universal product. Placing a very low price of approximately $1-2 allows for consumer switching costs to be overcome. After Team Supra perfects this product to the best of their capabilities we will look into security capabilities of the door stopper. For instance, the creation of a door lock checking system for any consumer enabled through bluetooth technology and sensors. The number of times I leave my apartment or garage at home and can’t seem to remember if I closed the door/garage is astronomical. Stay tuned for more of Team Supra’s innovations next week!

The Perfect Combo: 3D Printing & Big Data

Big data has to be one of the most prominent buzzwords in 2010s.  Hundreds of thousands of job postings are actively searching for “business analysts, data scientists, or candidates with experience in big data, data modeling, database management, data etc.” Just about every single one of my management information systems core classes touch upon big data in someway shape or form. And most importantly, employers and recruiters begin to view a candidate as a god in an interview when they have legitimate exposure and practical work experience in big data.

Big data is no joke and here are some reasons why its implications are dominating and molding the business world: Every 2 days humans create the same amount of data that was created from 2003 back to the beginning of the time. The total amount of data being successfully captured and stored doubles every 1.2 years. And my favorite statistic stems from the fact that would anyone expect anything different with 204 million emails, 1.8 million facebook likes, 278k tweets, 2.4 million google searches generated and 100 hours of uploaded Youtube video content every minute?

Look here for those crazy statistics!

With all this being said, everyone knows that 3-D printing is just as revolutionary and innovative as the rapid and exponential rise of big data. Thus, the new question that comes to hand is how 3D printing complements big data. The implications of 3D printing and big data are limitless in: 1. Data Visualization and 2. Monitoring Manufacturing

Data Visualization

While data is being relentless generated and recorded, data is meaningless if it cannot be effectively and properly interpreted and understood. This represents the constant struggle of data rich information poor. Tableau, Microsoft BI, and Qlik were all so groundbreaking because data was able to be represented in a way that was easily interpreted by all audiences. With very aesthetically appealing, comprehensive, and in depth visualizations, Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik allow a consumer to easily showcase business solutions and stories are easily told from the tips of their fingers. 3D printing takes visualization to a whole new level of in-depth analysis and even further simplifies and more explicitly illustrates the story the author is trying to tell. 3D printed visualizations yield better pattern recognition, deeper information absorption, and ignite excitement within the audience. This application of 3D printing in Data Visualization is lucidly demonstrated in MIT Researchers’ Zachary Weber Vijay Gadepally’s MIT-campus twitter activity visualization model. Zachary and Vijay are catalyzing the implication of geographical data visualization and 3D printing and attached is a picture:

MIT Picture

In MIT Technology Review’s How 3-D Printing is Revolutionizing the Display of Big Data, Weber and Gadepally began by printing and 3D model of MIT’s campus. From here, Weber and Gadepally cleaned and prepared Twitter data was specifically geolocated on MIT’s campus. Thus, Weber and Gadepally overlaid the stream of Twitter data to their MIT campus 3D printed model and easily illustrated “twitter volume as a function of time and space to provide insight into campus patterns or life.”

However, the most powerful part of Zachary and Vijay’s model was not just measuring volume of campus tweets but most importantly integrating an interactive screen that allows the end-user to easily analyze the content of all those tweets geographically. While Zachary and Vijay’s campus model illustrates a revolutionary way to analyze and study campus behavior, the implications of their model stretch so much further. Zachary and Vijay have laid the groundwork for city planners to effectively analyze city traffic patterns, marketers to better segment target markets based on geographic locations, retailers to better place retail stores based on consumer demand, and so much more. 3D printing is so crucial and groundbreaking to data visualization going forward not only because of its geographical visualization capabilities but also because it is becoming more economical and easily accessed by the consumer. Traditionally 3D models utilized to visualize data came with astronomically high expenses and typically sat in museums developed to display only simple sets of data. However, as 3D models are becoming easier and cheaper each and every day to print and create, 3D models are the future of data visualization, business analytics, and business intelligence: with geographical models being the very tip of the iceberg.

Monitoring Manufacturing

Big Data and 3D printing have another revolutionary opportunity to complement each other in the manufacturing industry. General Electric’s Aviation sector has been integrating Big Data and 3D printing to collect and analyze data on their manufactured products to predict defects through strategic placement of sensors. Here’s a video detailing the process:

In GE Reports’s Big Data Meets 3-D Printing: Big Data to Monitor Laser-Printed Jet Parts, it becomes evident that GE Aviation has been 3D printing many of its aerospace products specifically jet nozzle components. 3D printing has allowed GE to make jet nozzles more efficiently by utilizing only one raw material part (as opposed to 20 different parts) and making its jets 5 times more durable 25% lighter. Here’s an example of the finished product:

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.50.29 PM

With all this being said, Big Data is impacting GE Aviation’s 3D printing business by bolstering quality control through the development stages of GE Aviation’s jet products. Through the 3D building, printing, and laser cutting process, General Electric is consistently tracking and collecting data from sensors that are placed on all machinery involved within the process. This sensor “big data” is unrelenting fed into an algorithm that can immediately identify when problems that arise from the process: For instance, the weld pool may be too small, when certain machinery and processes should be hotter or colder than they should be, etc. Big data allows this quality control process to be so exacting and demanding to the point where every cubic millimeter of the production process is easily monitored. With the combination of Big Data and 3D printing GE Aviation has successfully implemented “in-process” inspection technology that is estimated to decrease production flow times by as much as 25%.

Monitor Manufacturing and 3D Visualization only represent the very start of 3D printing and its implications in the big data world. From learning about these two applications of 3D printing and Big Data, I am so excited to continuing learning more about the relentless possibilities of 3D printing. As I will be doing technology consulting specifically analytics consulting for IBM Global Business Services after graduation, I’m so excited for the potential possibilities of working on future projects that integrate 3D printing and big data together.

Coding and Putting it all together.

Looking back at this week’s class, I realized it was my last fab lab session! And it definitely was a bitter-sweet feeling. After having the opportunity to solder wires; work with laser printers, cutters, and engravers; I finally had the opportunity to try some coding and it was an unbelievable experience. At my internship this summer I had the opportunity to write VBA Macro’s as well as write some statistical programming code for R. However, I had never written Arduino before and it was truly a wonderful experience. We started with the basics of defining variables moved to writing loop statements and lastly IF then conditional statements. Through it all I was able to write a loop statement that was able to depict an SOS warning alert as well as combine Loop and IF Then statements to create my light sensor model. Here is a sample of what my code looked like:


Here is a video of my final product:


This week was truly a special week in the fab lab because it was the week that we finally put everything together. It was amazing to be able to see a project from end to end and that’s exactly what we did. While, I unfortunately did not take a photo of my final product I was ultimately able to develop and code the light sensing programming for my Arduino Board. From there I was able to take the wires that I had soldered and completely wire my board. And Lastly, I was able to place inside the box I created from laser cutting and engraving last week to make an ultimate aesthetically appealing and self-expressing light sensor. This was amazing as I was able to gain 2 major take-aways:


  1. Seeing a project end to end is incredible and with anything in life if you are patient, diligent, persistent, and willing to have a positive attitude and comprehensive mindset there are no projects in life (whether it is business or non-business related) that are in cable of being accomplished.
  2. It really re-iterated the message of how vast and relentless the opportunities are for digital in the future. The fab lab gave me a very cursory view on digital through soldering, coding, and laser engraving and printing. However, this is only the beginning. There’s so much more to digital out there that I can’t wait to learn in the last seven weeks of the semester.

Have a great spring break everyone, and I can’t wait for what’s in store when we come back!


P.S. My favorite part was probably the coding but maybe that’s just my inner coding nerd channeling out J

The Endless Possibilities of Laser Cutting, Laser Engraving, and Inkscape

Okay, so I was wrong! I thought last week was going to be my all-time favorite Digital Making Seminar class of the semester, but this was even more incredible.  With the wonderful teaching for Alexis and Clinton, I was able to construct my very own wooden box all to be engraved and cut by lasers! We spent the first couple minutes of class learning the basics of InkScape (the software program that would ultimately allow us to perform our engravings and cuts). I’m not going to lie the beginning definitely, was not as exciting as I was anticipating but this quickly changed. About 1 hour into class the tables turned. Clinton and Alexis gave us the opportunity to get creative with our own hands and design our own cuts and engravings on each sides of the box. This was an excellent opportunity for me to fully express myself and I chose the following faces and here is a picture of my final product:


Face 1: Logo of IBM Global Business Services: I will be working as a Technology Consultant for IBM post graduation and none of this could be possible without my wonderful experiences and memories I have made here at the University of Illinois.

Face 2: Imprint of New Jersey: I grew up in New Jersey and it is home. I love New Jersey not only because of my childhood memories but also because it has the most wonderful beach in the world: Jersey Shore. No matter where I end up in life Jersey will ALWAYS be home.

Face 3: Skyline of New York: Growing up on the east coast, New York will always be the greatest and most beautiful city in the world in my eyes. I will be working full-time there!

Face 4: Skyline of Chicago: Spending two summers in Chicago and making countless memories in the loop, North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park, Wrigley, and River North, Chicago will always hold special home in my heart.

Face 5: Skyline of Milan, Italy. I studied abroad in Milan, Italy and it was honestly some of the greatest 4 months of my life exploring all of Europe and trying different foods I had never experienced before.

Face 6: Skyline of Minneapolis: My girlfriend currently lives and works full-time in Minneapolis. As my girlfriend is very important to me, Minneapolis has become an integral city in my life!

And here are some videos of Laser Engraving!


And Laser Cutting…


The Fab Lab has taught me this week that the whole Digital Making movement is not only just about creating the most cutting-edge technology or making the most ground-breaking impact, but it’s also a way to uniquely express yourself and differentiate yourself from others!

My very own introduction to Wiring and Soldering

I am not even going to lie but I had polarizing expectations and realities walking into class this week. For starters, the Fab Lab was very far walk from my apartment in comparison to the BIF: to be honest, I think it may have been my first time on the Urbana side of campus in the last 2 semesters. Now with that being said, I walked into the Fab Lab at 1301 South Goodwin Avenue, Art Annex 2, Urbana, IL 61801 and my expectations dropped even further. It was extremely hot inside the fab lab, and I quickly learned that not only was it one of the oldest and archaic buildings on campus but it was also a building that originally stored all the horse poop back when there were horses on campus… (maybe 1880s?).

Fab Lab Picture

HOWEVER, my low expectations rapidly changed instilling an immense amount of guilt in my conscience. I felt terrible for my inaccurate pre-conceived notions about the fab lab because my first week experience wasn’t just FAB-ulous it was FANTABULOUS. Here are some initial pictures I took of all the amazing creativity and innovation taking place at the FAB-lab.



We were split into three groups this week and I had the pleasure of building a circuit on an Arduino board. Ultimately, my team was given the task to individually construct an LED light board that would act as an indicator of the amount of light in any given environment. With 5 LED lights circuited to the Arduino board, this circuit was programmed to have one LED light on when the sensor was sensing a lot of light. And in the event, that there was no light (or if you covered the sensor with your finger), all 5 of the LED lights would all flash rapidly. Furthermore, the number of lights that turned on represented the whole spectrum of all light exposure levels (i.e. 1 light representing high light exposure, 3 ligths representing medium light exposure, 5 flicker lights representing low to zero light exposure). Once again, to be completely honest I was very intimidated when the task was given to me. I remember Jorge and Brian asking me if I had ever soldered before and not even knowing what soldering meant. And thus, this was my reaction:


I won’t lie it was easy at first. There were many times I was ready to give up. For instance, I would spend 10 minutes soldering 2 wires, and the second I thought they were successfully connected, I would pick up the wires and they would instantaneously fall apart. But I didn’t let this stop me. I continued soldering, learned about positive and negative wiring, cultivated a comprehensive knowledge foundation of wiring a circuit board, and most importantly proved myself wrong. And through it all, I was not only able to successfully solder and connect 14+ wires for this project, but I was able to successfully produce a light sensor circuit board! Look at my end results here:


This has been by FAR MY FAVORITE CLASS for Digital Making Seminar. I proved to myself that I have the capability to take on challenges that I am completely uncomfortable with. Even with tasks where I may lack the dexterity of the average person, I learned with a little perseverance and a whole lot of discipline, I can definitely accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I am so glad I stepped outside the comfort box this week, as I’ve been inspired to pursue soldering and circuiting further. This week taught me to consistently keep my mind open not only in the final 2 months of my “college career” but most importantly also in my life post-graduation. I can’t wait for what is in store for class this week! (Hopefully it’s the coding portion because I’m really interested in that!)

Problem Identification: Key to every successful innovation

Walking into the MakerLab this week was definitely a change of “scenery” after being in other classrooms in BIF and Armory for the past few weeks. With that being said, it was wonderful to see all the 3-d printing, creativity, and innovation at work once again. Class started with a group activity consisting of idea formulation for our final projects and proposals in the class. As Olivia, Veronika, and I sat upstairs in BIF overlooking the atrium, Team Supra realized that the most crucial process in idea innovation and generation was problem identification.


As covered in class, the most successful projects, concepts, innovation, stem from effective problem identification. By efficiently identifying problems consumers struggle with on a daily basis, gaps in the market and consumer demand and need can be discovered. These gaps ultimately allow for the most successful prototypes and products to be catalyzed. With that being said, Team Supra mutually agreed that overflowing trash is a persistent common household problem. Trash is inevitably generated on a daily basis and an overall nuisance to any consumer. As trash causes terrible odor, occupies a significant amount of spaces, and can ruin the overall ambiance of a household, Team Supra identified a way to reduce waste frustration. Olivia, Veronika, and I laughed when we all mutually agree that there have been countless times when we take out the trash and realize that the trash bag isn’t fully utilized. Because of this, Team Supra formulated concepts that could catalyze the commercialization of an everyday consumer household affordable compactable trashcan that ensures consumers maximum utility of their trash bags. With such a solution, consumers not only enjoy economical benefits (money saved on trash bags) and household benefits (no odor leaking out of the top of the trashcan from and overflowing trashcan) but also strive towards creating a better environment with less trash bags wasted.


While it may have been a little pre-mature, we began brainstorming to solution this problem. When brainstorming potential prototypes to our idea, we came up with the following:

  1. A trash can that ultimately has a lid with compactable capabilities
  2. Special hooks that ensure full utilization of the trash bag
  3. Lids with holes allowing for personal trash compacting by hand


However, we realized how crucial it was to make the product accessible to the consumer. For instance, we were well aware that a compacting trashcan is no new innovation by any means. As a matter of fact, we have plenty of compacting trash cans here at the University of Illinois. The biggest issue we face in problem solution-ing is appealing to the consumer at the proper price point. The typical compacting trashcan currently exists at too high of a price point for an average household. If the price were brought down to a $40-50, consumers would find it cost-worthy to invest. Now with that being said, there are so many factors to consider going forward: product materials, product compactable capabilities, the physics behind everything, and so much more.


Nevertheless, this week’s class was certainly a fruitful experience. From idea generation to problem solutioning to above all problem identification, brainstorming was definitely a huge learning experience for team Supra. And I think my biggest take away from class this week was the following: From Professor Vishal himself, “when 3-d printing and problem solutioning it is always the most important to start from problem identification. Your chances of success are exponentially higher when you identify a problem and try to solve it as opposed to starting with solutions first.”