Look out, world. Here comes a generation of wildly creative engineers.
We see Gadget Freak projects from all walks of life, but many of our most imaginative gadgets are created by very young engineers. Most of our budding engineers are moving their way through college mechatronics programs, but some were in high school when they developed and submitted their creations.
Click the image below for a slideshow of the best gadgets from some of our youngest engineers.
Gadget Freak Case #196: Mayan Water Sound Fountain
Here's an entertaining gadget from a trio of engineering students -- a waterfall over a miniature Mayan temple that responds to music. Speakers and lights are built into the Mayan pyramid, and water flows through the center of the gadget for a powerful overall effect. The device includes a pyramid plexiglass body, a water system, a control unit, speakers, and an output screen with LEDs.
Do you have a Gadget Freak project you would like the world to see? Send a brief description of your gadget and a photo to Senior Editor Rob Spiegel.
Great job by those young engineers! I would like one of the smart bikes - I always have trouble knowing what gear to shift on my ten speed when the terrain changes. I also would like that toolbox for our garage - my only request would be that they add an additional feature that solves the problem we always have - remembering to replace the tools in the proper place when the job is complete!
I wonder if they will be attempting to bring any of their designs to market. We see a lot of senior projects (hubby teaches electronics at the college level) but the logistics of bringing a prototype through the product development and marketing process seems formidable at the student level - budget being one of the limiting factors. However, these efforts are always great props for future interviews and speak very highly of the person's abilities in so many ways. Bringing these projects to completion involves multiple skill sets and is no small task! Congratulations to each one of these young people!
There are some very interesting ideas here. The smart recycle can, in particular, seems like a practical solution for sorting out material that can be recycled. I also like the idea of picking a song for the trash-flap dance, which should most certainly add to the amusements value of the gadget in a public environment.
I wasn't going to say anything, but that was my immediate impression of not only the Mayan pyramid, but a few others, too – "what's the point?" Then, my mind takes me to the next-adjacent area where wonderful talent gets misdirected, and I see Hackers & Virus writers in early incubation. (shuddering)
What these young genius's need is a series of targeted goals & challenges. Maybe the DN can encourage in a more positive direction, with the creation of student stimulus program of some kind-?
I definately agree. I would really love some sort of engineering competitions easy to access. I was lucky enough to get on an FRC team, but I know that a lot of people don't have that opportunity. I think it would be especially good in middle and high schools, done in a way that the kids can learn skills without a large time commitment, and most importantly, create something of their own design for a competition. In my school (and I assume that most others) the only real engineering class in one semester, and barely goes beyond paper and masking tape.
Nancy is certainly correct: sometimes we do things just for fun, just because we can. No, the temple waterfall does not have much practical use, but it is entertaining, with the added advantage that it is quite safe, which is a big point in some circles.
Jim is correct in that it is far better that they develop things like this than write viruses and develop hacking skills.
But still, having some open-ended challenge, such as the development of additional means of energy harvesting, or the development of a better means of energy storage, could possibly result in some major game-changing discoveries. Something like that could benefit all of humanity for a long time, and hopefully make the inventor wealthy.
Nancy, the effort for moving a great idea into a great product is the main rason that we don't have so very many great products. The effort is huge, in most cases.
Of course, if it were easy, then it is possible that not only would we be inundated with great products, but that we might even run out of new great ideas. Or at least experience a temporary shortage of them.
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.