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Will Parkinson of the Knox Engineers Club using a CNC mill to carve their club logo on a piece of wood.


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3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and More: Knox Engineers Club

Will Parkinson of the Knox Engineers Club using a CNC mill to carve their club logo on a piece of wood.

by Elise Goitia '18

A determined group of Knox students has created an engineering club to offer opportunities to apply what they learn in the classroom.

"Here, we have the freedom to help facilitate what students want to create," said Will Parkinson '19, one of the founders of the club, which has acquired a 3D printer and laser cutter, among other equipment, to use for projects.

For Parkinson, actually seeing what can be done with physics is much more enticing than doing it on paper.

"If you can use it to build something cool, that's when it begins to sink in," he said.

Students in the club come from different science backgrounds but have a common interest in engineering. Each member offers classes to teach other members about different aspects of the field. Past classes have included 3D printing and micro controlling in electronics. Members also contribute books from previous courses to the club's growing library.

"The best part of the club is that there's not really one person steering everything," said Annie Carges '19. "Everyone has a chance to talk about what projects they want to do with the resources we have. We want to make sure everybody has a chance to demonstrate what they know and teach others."

The students say that their diverse experiences help the club explore engineering by incorporating physics, biology, chemistry, and other sciences into projects.

"So, maybe you don't know anything about electronics but you know about biology. We want to hear about that," said Peter Driscoll '19.

Driscoll, whose background is in physics, is working with biology majors Carges and Theo Ruffins '18 on a project that uses hydroponics, which involves growing plants without soil. The three students are using a water-soluble mineral nutrient solution and artificial light to increase the growth rate of strawberries.

Club members transformed a storage space in the basement of the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center into an area for their meetings, lessons, and projects. They tore out old carpet, constructed cubbies from scratch, built a speaker system, and even made their own computer out of scraps of a '90s CPU.

"We used whatever we could find," said Danny Andreev '18, another one of the students who helped start the club. "Now, every week we have something new come into the club. It's constantly upgrading."

"What we're doing is supplementary to an education, since a lot of what we learn through courses is theoretical as opposed to applied," said Andreev. "We're Knox Engineering. We apply the potential energy of us as students to the kinetic endeavors of the engineering world."

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Printed on Friday, September 24, 2021