Monday, December 05, 2005

Invention day

We went to the Design Expo at CU where undergraduates in the industrial design program show off their projects. I thought it would be fun to see clever designs and I was even thinking I might be interested in getting a degree in the program.

The expo was crowded and a bit disappointing. I was mostly struck by just how YOUNG the students were. There were all these fresh-faced mop tops. And that made me feel old. There may have been some really interesting things in the mix, but it was hard to see because of the crowds and because the presentation by the students left something to be desired. But what did I expect? Did I mention they are young?

The most interesting exhibits—at least to the kids, which is where my attention was diverted—seemed to be the permanent exhibits in the engineering building. The building was kind of like a children's museum with perpetual motion pendulums, tectonic movement sand tables, square wheels, rhythmic patterns made from squirting water, and so on. Parts of the building have been left exposed and there are signs explaining construction techniques. We'll have to go back another time when it is less crowded to explore these at leisure. Greg also says there is a cafe with good coffee in the building. Sounds like a pleasant future outing.

The most amazing thing I saw was not an invention by the students, but something the students used to make their inventions. As one woman explained it to me, they have a three-dimensional printer. Yes, a printer that produces 3-D. She said you design a three-dimensional shape on a CAD program on the computer screen and then you "print" it out. The printer lays down layers of plastic and can make any shape you specify. I asked if you could make anything: fountains, sculptures, etc. She said yes, as long as it was smaller than about 18 inches. The idea is like a dream come true. You can envision and object then just print it out. Can't wait until that is old hat!

2 comments:

Mom said...

Look at www.ideo.com (based in Palo Alto) and listen to Tom Kelly's talk to the Commonwealth Club.

cda said...

Totally, totally cool, Jen. Just like you!