Tag Archives: Carleton University

Team Carleton: The Aftermath!

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The Carleton University team is back home in the wake of NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, Ala., April 3-4. They’re heading into the home stretch on their spring term at Carleton, as are most colleges and universities, but our resident blogger and 2009 Carleton moonbuggy co-driver Lindsay Los took time out to send us some final thoughts…

Well, after a year of buildup, the 2009 Great Moonbuggy Race is finally over. After an eventful and dramatic two days of racing, it was time to pack up the buggy and team and head back home.

Not before handing out some Canadian souvenirs though! On Sunday morning Raakesh decided to sacrifice his case of Molson Canadian beer to give as gifts to some of the other international teams at the competition. We dropped off some bottles for the German and Indian teams and snapped some pictures with them before starting the long trip home. 

Twenty-one hours later, we finally pulled into Carleton at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, April 6.  I didn’t think it would be possible to experience such an array of weather in such a small time period, but I guess that’s what happens when you drive across half a continent!  On the way down to Alabama we turned on the radio to hear tornado warnings and half an hour later experienced torrential rains. Then we had beautiful weather during the races — only to return home to Ottawa with fresh snow and wintery weather!

Once we were home, it was back to studying and regular school activities — like watching ourselves on Discovery Channel’s “The Daily Planet!” It was fun to see the 10-minute compilation of three days of filming, though we all had a feeling there would be a lot of footage of the “finger incident” — which turned out to be correct.

Re: the “finger incident” — Lindsay’s fellow driver Chris Polowick suffered the most noteworthy injury of this year’s GMBR. When his chain slipped during the first day of racing, Chris put a hand down to try to get it back into place — and inadvertently put a finger into his sprocket. Even with his glove on, he was cut deeply. But after a quick visit to the ER, some stitches — and, we’re guessing, a little good-natured ribbing from his teammates and competitors — Chris was right back in the buggy with Lindsay on Day 2, battling it out. What a trooper!

Also on the agenda, now that this year’s moonbuggy race was over, was figuring out who would take over for next year. Because the moonbuggy team is a project within the Carleton SEDS (Saturday Engineering and Design Sessions) club, Curtis and Brian decided to include the moonbuggy leader positions with the CuSEDS annual election.


Lindsay and Chris push hard on Day 1, but Chris’s injury and a harrowing
2009 course knocked last year’s third-place victors down to 17th place.
Nonetheless, we know Carleton will be back in 2010 — and they’ll be
back to win! (Credit: NASA/MSFC/D. Stoffer)

On April 7, we had a big electoral meeting of the CuSEDS group and the new execs were elected for next year. It turned out all the executive positions were filled by this year’s moonbuggy team members — good job, team! The actual moonbuggy project positions, however, are still in the process of being decided. Because leading the moonbuggy team is such a big job, we agreed that it would be better for Curtis and Brian to interview the candidates one on one. So I guess you’ll have to wait til next year to find out!

For more about the CUSEDS program: http://cuseds.engsoc.org/

We’ll be glad to have you back in 2010, Carleton racers! And Chris — fingers and toes inside the moonbuggy at all times… =)

Team Carleton: A Day of Discovery and a Final Week of Prep

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We wrap up the week — the last full prep week before GMBR — with some updates from Lindsay Los and the Carleton University team…

Last week was a particularly exciting one for the moonbuggy team. Curtis Parks, our project manager, got a call from Hilary Bird, a friend of a friend of one of our team members — who turned out to be a journalism student doing a week-long work placement with Ottawa’s CTV news channel. Hilary had been invited to our comedy night — which was a big hit, lots of fun and raised more than $700! — and though she couldn’t attend, she thought our team would make a really great news story!

So last Thursday afternoon, Hilary and a CTV cameraman came over to Carleton to get some footage and interviews. Curtis, Chris Polowick and I were interviewed and they got lots of footage of us working on the buggy, rolling it around and building parts in the machine shop.

It was all very exciting — but as soon as it was over, we had to start getting things organized for the next day when the Discovery Channel would be sending over a film crew to spend the entire day with us!


A TV crew from Discovery Channel Canada interviews Curtis Parks, Carleton’s
moonbuggy project manager, about his team’s progress toward the
2009 race. (Photo: Carleton University)

Bright and early Friday morning, the Discovery film crew rolled in and started filming us working on the buggy. The first thing they did was hook Curtis up to a hidden microphone so they’d be able to follow all the action over the course of the day. At that point, the buggy had everything on except one set of pedals and the seats, which the film crew was hoping to film being made — it’s an exciting vacuum-forming process done by Industrial Design team member Andrew Lowe. [Note: Lindsay’s brief Q&A with Andrew appears below.] 

We took the buggy for a little spin from our team room down to the machine shop, with the film crew running behind, then set to work for the rest of the day. Everything seemed to be a little bit more exciting and intense with the film crew hovering around. They were in on all the action and would stop us every once in a while to capture our work and explanations of what we were doing. After lunch, Curtis and I were taken aside for extensive individual interviews with one of the producers to give a more detailed explanation of exactly what we were doing this year, how it was different from last year, some experiences we’ve had and what we hope to achieve.


Carleton team member Rakesh Bharathi (rear center) walks the Discovery film crew
through the intricacies of moonbuggy development. (Photo: Carleton University)

After an exhausting but exciting day, we finally got the buggy back to the team room and were just sitting down to figure out what needed to be done next… when we realized it was 5:50 p.m. and our CTV news story was being aired in 10 minutes on the 6 o’clock news! We ran down to the university pub, and got there just in time to watch ourselves on TV. Our story also was put on the Internet newscast and was seen across the country all weekend. Talk about awesome publicity!

We also finally selected our moonbuggy riders for this year’s race. Taking advantage of the machine shop’s lunch break, tryouts were held Tuesday at noon in our athletic center. We decided on a recumbent bicycle tryout to simulate our buggy’s riding position — turns out riding a recumbent bike is a lot harder than it looks! Though there were no other girls and therefore no need for me to try out, I decided to do it anyway, to see how I ranked with the guys. It ended up being a tie for first place between me and Chris Polowick, who will be our male rider. Time to start the serious training now!
 
Q&A with Andrew Lowe, third-year Industrial Design student

How did you get involved in the Moonbuggy Project? 
I got involved in the project after Curtis and Brian [Mattock, Curtis’ fellow project manager] appealed to us designers to help them build a better buggy. The project looked interesting, and I love working with my hands, building things. The ability to apply design principles to the project, and being able to manufacture major parts of the buggy, is what sold me.

What are your contributions as the token Industrial Design student on the team?
I’ve been dealing with the human factors of the moonbuggy. It seemed to me that previous Carleton moonbuggies had been well engineered, but rider, pedal and seating positions had been left as an afterthought. Research into recumbent bicycles and cycling ergonomics led to the initial positioning of the pedals and seat in relation to the riders.

Speaking of seats, they have been my main contribution to the project. The seats were designed through a series of development sketches and then refined and modeled in SolidWorks 2008. They are made of a folding aluminum frame with vacuum-formed ABS plastic bottom and back panels. After a few tweaks, the seats are quite comfortable and definitely spice up the look of our moonbuggy.


Carleton industrial design major Andrew Lowe joined the moonbuggy team this
year to help punch up “the human factor.” He designed this innovative, ergonomic
seat, left, using SolidWorks CAD software; the finished product, right, awaits
installation. (Photo: Carleton University)
 

What have you enjoyed most about the experience?
I’ve enjoyed working with all the engineers involved in the project. I normally work with other designers, and its been nice to work with some more technically minded people. I’m looking forward to representing Carleton’s School of Industrial Design, as well as being one of the few industrial designers at NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race.


Andrew conducts the vacuum-forming process. To get a look at more of his design
work, visit
http://www.lowe9.com. (Photo: Carleton University)

Carleton Woos Discovery,Nears Buggy Completion

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Here’s Lindsay Los with more news and insight from the Carleton University moonbuggy team:

 

We’ve had some really exciting developments with the media this week.  After getting some advice from the Media Relations team at Carleton, we managed to get in contact with a couple different TV programs. This led to some chatting with The Discovery Channel and they decided they’d like to get some footage of us doing various moonbuggy tasks! Because they’re based out of Toronto, they asked us to film our team members building parts in the machine shop and assembling the buggy. We happily agreed and spent Friday morning filming each other finishing up parts in the machine shop. When we finally completed our work in the shop, we started building the buggy, and eight hours later, it was assembled!  It still isn’t 100 percent complete — it’s missing pedals and seats, and various other things need to be adjusted, but it was complete enough for a photo shoot with the university publication Carleton Now.

 

Upcoming highlights include making the seats and our rider tryouts. Andrew Lowe, our Industrial Design team member, will be building the seat mold and vacuum-forming the seats followed by some CNC’ing in the machine shop. Tryouts will consist of a short individual time trial on a stationary bike in our Athletics Center. Hopefully we’ll be riding our buggy by the end of next week!

 

 

Carleton team members Curtis Parks, front, Lindsay Los and Brian Mattock show off their nearly finished moonbuggy. (Photo courtesy of Carleton University)

 

  

Hard at work: Clockwise from top: Team members Rakesh Bharathi, Brian Rutkay, Chris Polowick, Brian Mattock and Ayron Catteau. (Photo courtesy of Carleton University)

 

Lindsay also cornered her busy teammates with a quick Q&A. Here’s Brian and Chris in the interrogation seat:

 

Brian Mattock, moonbuggy tech manager

Third-year aerospace engineering student

 

How did you get involved with the Moonbuggy Project?            

I started with the project when it first began here at Carleton. I was young and naïve and was drawn to the glamour of NASA and a trip to Huntsville. I’m glad I got involved — the entire project was one of the coolest things I had done!

What do you do as tech manager?
This year we’re trying to move the project in a direction more critical of engineering principles. As tech manager, I’m responsible to take the work from each design team and make sure they did their math properly. I’m also Curtis’s right-hand man when it comes to the administrative and financial work.

What’s your favorite part of being on the moonbuggy team?

It’s hard to pick just one part that I enjoy the most. If the project wasn’t as much fun as it is, I probably wouldn’t be doing it. But if I really had to pick, it would be seeing the buggy go together. It’s especially rewarding to see paper designs become a reality.

 

Chris Polowick, team welder/all-around superhero

Third-year aerospace engineering student

 

How did you get involved in the Moonbuggy Project? 
I was having a conversation with Brian, our tech manager, about how I wished that [our engineering curriculum] had more actual design projects for students. He told me about the moonbuggy team and said he had an opening for someone to design the suspension. I told him I was interested and it just went from there.

What have you liked best about the project?
I’ve really enjoyed the build so far. I’ve always liked hands-on projects, and actually seeing our design taking shape has been really exciting.

Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to?
It’s going to be really cool to see it finally completed. When the buggy is finished, and we ride it around for the first time, it will be really exciting. We’ve all put a lot of hard work into the project so far, and I’m really interested to see how the final product will turn out. Also… winning.

 

Carleton’s moonbuggy team this week held its Comedy Night fundraiser — get in touch with them to talk about how your school can come up with similar ways to raise money for your Huntsville trip!

Where's a Team to Weld?

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The troupe from
Carleton University was dealing with machine shop woes this week — and with the local limelight. Here’s Lindsay Los with an update on Carleton’s moonbuggy team:
 
With a presentation and various media photo shoots scheduled, everyone has been putting in all available time this week (including class time) at the machine shop, getting parts ready to be welded. 

When we showed up Wednesday morning, however, ready for a day of welding, we found that the MIG welder had been taken over by the 4th-year students’ Formula SAE Car project — and the TIG welder had been broken all week! Things started to get a little stressful as we frantically thought of our limited options. 1) Pay to use the university’s maintenance machine shop… not sure if they would do that for us though… 2) Use the Industrial Design program’s machine shop. We do have a few ID students on the Carleton moonbuggy team, but that shop is specifically for ID school projects, so… 3) Well, there really wasn’t a third option!

While Curtis was frantically trying to figure out some way for us to weld, I was dealing with e-mails and phone calls from university and city publications and media, all of whom wanted photo shoots and interviews during the presentation. Scheduling photo shoots during my morning tutorial — while receiving text messages saying the buggy wasn’t going to be ready in time — was stressful, to say the least! Finally, we managed to get some time with the welder in the ID shop, and while Brian, Curtis and Chris finished the welding, I finished my Materials test in my tutorial so I could join them to help assemble the frame. 
 
After a frantic morning, everything worked out in the end. The photographers from the Ottawa Citizen and Carleton Now showed up, and after seeing our semi-assembled buggy, agreed to come back next week, when we could do a “cool” photo shoot with us actually riding the buggy. Luckily, the TV station that was going to come as well didn’t show, so hopefully we’ll be able to contact them for an interview next week. 

We hope by then Lindsay and Co. will be ready for their close-up! Happy assembly period, teams!

No Room in the Machine Shop? ROAD TRIP!

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Lindsay Los, 21, is a third-year mechanical engineering student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Last year, as Carleton’s female moonbuggy driver, she helped push her team to third place in the college division. She’s driving again this year, and she aims to win.

It’s Carleton’s “Reading Week” this week — a break in the school routine for some “frantic catching up,” Lindsay says, prior to mid-terms — but she also found time to write about her team for the Buggy Blog:

 


Optimism, dedication, enthusiasm, and great spirit — these are just a few of the words Professor Kaya, our faculty supervisor, used to describe our team’s attitude over the past six months — especially given the fact that we haven’t had a lot of financial support from the university. Our team did not let any bumps in the road stop them, however, and with less than 50 days left till race day, we are well on our way to completing the buggy that we hope will help us defend our bronze medal! 

After four months of designing the buggy, we finally completed a working design we were happy with. Now it was off to the Carleton Machine Shop to get the action started!


Carleton team members Curtis Parks, front, and Chris Polliwick use a circular saw
in the school’s  machine shop to cut aluminum for their buggy.

Because our team is competing for shop time with multiple other engineering projects, we decided to speed up the building process by taking matters into our own hands. Fortunately our project manager Curtis Parks’ family has a fully equipped machine shop at their house, just waiting for our moonbuggy!


Team members Chris Polliwick, left, and Brian Mattock work on the moonbuggy’s frame.

We loaded up all the cut aluminum and drove four hours to Peterborough, Ontario, where our personal machine shop was waiting. Twenty hours of welding, three sunburns and one hot tub party later, we had two completed moonbuggy frames. (As it turned out, the sunburns may have been a positive thing — and may even have gotten Curtis an awesome summer job!  When asked about his incredibly red and slightly puffy eyes in a job interview several days later, Curtis was able to launch into an exciting spiel about the moonbuggy, the hands-on engineering experience he was getting and how amazingly applicable it would be in an engineering workplace. I’d definitely hire him!)

Lindsay conducted a quick interview with Curtis, also a third-year mechanical engineering student, during their work in the machine shop. Some excerpts:

L: How did you get involved in “MB03,” our Moonbuggy project?
C: Last year’s moonbuggy project needed some help in the machine shop, and I was asked since I already had some experience. Then I started to get more involved with the design, because I found it really interesting.


The 2008 Carleton team pedals its way to third place in the 15th annual
Great Moonbuggy Race.

L: What’s your favorite thing about being involved in MB03? 
C: The competition. Driving down to Alabama last year and being at the competition was such a cool experience — especially things like talking to the NASA engineers who worked on the original projects, and meeting other teams from around the world. Also, being project manager this year has been really interesting and fun. 

We’ll check in with Lindsay and Team Carleton again soon — once mid-terms are behind them!