The Making of Machines…
I had such a wonderful week with the mechanical engineering workshop. I spent most of the week with Kurt and his apprentice Daniel and took the slow, but keen steps to learning about all of the tools that I will most likely use to build a
prototype of my design. My head is filled with lathes, milling machines, hydraulic presses, and the war over Whitworth, the U.S., and England system of
measurements. The first thing Kurt gave me today was an A4 sheet that talked about the difference between CGS and MKS units and why engineers prefer the MKS system (meter, kilogram, and seconds). We then went on for quite a while discussing the different thread angles and pitch the U.S. uses versus pretty much the entire world and the issues that brings. I am proud of learning about the following machines:
- milling machine
- hydraulic press
- how to use a tap and dye set (to make threads for a screw or make the threads on a screw)
- the basic idea of how a CNC works
- hollow punch set (used to make gaskets, washers, and sealing rings in multiple types of materials)
Kurt was asked by a professor to make a specific device that he could test heat flow and convection currents in. The professor gave the specifications to Kurt and Daniel and then we discussed what materials would make the most sense and
how to go about each aspect of the project. This really helped me figure out how to go about my drawings, ideas, and research what I would need for the anemometer tripod design. I spent the majority of the week in and out of the Mechanical Engineering workshop, drawing and sketching designs, learning about how the wind tunnel works in the cyclone
testing centre, and asking Tony a million questions about welding and what he was working on (sorry I can’t share this information publicly).
Half of the challenges sketching were that I kept changing my mind or wanting to research designs so I wasn’t reinventing the wheel…which in pretty much all cases and creative thought I was. The best part about finding out that I was mimicking similar designs and ideas that have already been made was that I was thinking
like an engineer and creating ideas that were good enough to be manufactured. This was kind of a surprising and exciting experience to go through and attempt for my first time though there was a lot of wall staring as I contemplated concepts in my head.
I joined the recreational engineers soccer club that meets Tuesday and Friday’s and really enjoyed playing at dusk with the team members. Luckily it is not very competitive and instead
more about having good fun. This is also a great opportunity to meet more people and have an excuse to be outside for as long as possible running around (always a plus!). In Townsville’s winter (most people call it “Brownsville” in the winter because there is no rains for almost 3 months) the day goes from being very chilly in the morning to very warm by mid-afternoon and then back to chilly at dusk. It is so nice having the temperature slowly drop while we are playing soccer and the sensation of night’s cold fingers take hold.
In between soccer evenings I found JCU’s creative arts centre and have been using the practice studio to play piano as much as possible. I used to be able to sneak on Pratt’s campus in Brooklyn and play
, but they locked up the piano and I have not found a good spot since. The practice room is quite big with a beautiful grand Yamaha piano and a drum set in the corner. It is located on the side of the building and has windows in an west and south facing direction (perfect for watching the sunset at night). The drum set in the back vibrates when I play the piano so it almost sounds like I have a little accompaniment as I play. I have also been cycling more during the afternoon hours when I finish work and finding climbing trees to read my books, however it seems there is always some type of ant infestation in every tree (you have to watch out for the green ones…they bite you and then excrete acetic acid from the their behind on you and it really stings).
The Aborigine’s were known to make a paste with these ants and as a result were able to obtain a great source of vitamin c from the concoction.
Around the Ville weekend…
I had a wonderful weekend. I was unable to attend the Townsville Road Runner’s club run on Saturday, but instead was able to find a bike path that went from JCU all the way to Townsville without going on any main roadway. I just kept following the path and exploring the many parks, trees, and paths until low and behold I found myself in the city centre next to the Coral Sea. I went to a café to have a quick coffee before jumping on the ferry to Magnetic Island and ended up in a conversation with a gentleman that went to the Air Force Academy with my brother that is now stationed in Hawaii and on a work visit to Australia. I couldn’t believe that he not only knew my brother, but had flown on missions with him and gone to school with him. Small-nano-scale world. I ended up meeting the rest of the Air force crew from Hawaii and having dinner with them. They talked about going to Yongala Shipwreck south of Townsville on Sunday where 122 people died while their ship attempted to “weather the storm” through a cyclone. There were no survivors and the only evidence of the ship’s passing was a racehorse named Moonshine’s that washed ashore close to Ross River in Townsville. The ship itself was not found until almost 40 years after it was lost to sea. Though the dive sounded like an adventure, it also sounded like a very eerie excursion to visit an underwater cemetery. I find it fascinating that everything has been exquisitely preserved and nothing has been removed from the site…alas, I have no diving license and will be unable to attend, but look forward to hearing about the stories this week.
Sunday I rode
back to Townsville and visited the Sunday market where I bought three of the most delicious grapefruit
I have ever had and wandered through the art filled streets only to find myself inside of the
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery (free admission…YES!!!) staring at beautiful works of art made by local Townsville artists. From here I eventually left and found the ferry terminal and made my way to Magnetic Island. The ferry ride over only took 20 minutes and I ate my second grapefruit while we motored along. Upon arriving I quickly zoomed off to Alma Bay with my bike. Alma Bay was the suggested Bay to swim in because the Coral Reefs where further out to sea and it was pretty protected from massive waves. The water temperature was a pleasant 21°C (69.8°F). I have to admit it took me a minute to want to fully jump in, but when I did I stayed in for quite a while, swimming, floating and looking at the granite outcrops to the right and left of me jutting into the bay. I jumped onto my bike after I ran around all over the rocks and dried off and slowly made my way uphill to Horseshoe Bay. On my travels I came across a skate park that was covered by a solar powered roof that boasts the second largest photovoltaic system in Northern Queensland (dubbed Solar Skate Park…check out the link it is fantastic: http://www.townsvillesolarcity.com.au/). I finally made it to Horseshoe Bay where I was able to climb a tree and finish reading my book. After an amazing day, bike-ride back to the ferry, and ferry ride back to Townsville I went to my supervisors house for a dinner he had invited me to in order to meet his family and allow Peter (a masters civil engineer student who is very close to graduation) practice his presentation for a big job interview he has on Wednesday in Sidney. Coincidently I had already met Peter earlier this week when I was able to listen to his mock presentation he will be delivering in two weeks on the research he conducted in order to gain his masters degree. Needless to say, both presentations were spot on and great to listen to and I think he will have a very positive experience in both cases mentioned above.I had yet another fantastic week. I continue to be impressed with this opportunity
and am trying to take full advantage of every experience. I feel very fortunate to be working with such a great group and absolutely love the smallness of Townsville…oh and the smell of trees.