Learning by Doing!
To see the results of BSE’s 2011 students, please check out the student section of the BLOG!
The Blue Stamp curriculum is designed to empower students with the ability to build projects they are excited about. Students will learn to take products from concept to prototype. Similar to a real world technology setting, the products will be built stepwise with achievable milestones.
Each session will begin with a short discussion based on where the students are in their build process. This can be general approaches that may be helpful, motivating hints on how to overcome challenges, or potential pitfalls to watch for in the design process. Students will then be given ample time to work on their projects, supported by hands on instruction from the lead instructor and TA’s, when necessary. This help may be in the form of recommending the right tool to use for a certain task, brainstorming or troubleshooting an error, or simply providing motivation and ideas to continue researching the topic and trying new solutions.
Ultimately, we believe the strength of the BSE program comes from its singular goal – building real products that work.
What kinds of projects would BSE suggest for its students? Alternative energy devices, laser projects, and robotics are all on our list of over 100 project ideas. See what past students have built with us!
Once Accepted into the Program…
…students will be provided with the BSE project book of over 100 project ideas. The student can select a project from the book, or come up with his or her own project. In either case, the student will email the instructor a month before the first class describing their project idea. Once the project scope and goal has been finalized between the student and the instructor, the student will make a parts list for the instructor to put on order so everything will be ready on the first day of class.
The First Day…
…will begin with introductions and a discussion about what the students should expect to do, what they need to deliver, and how they can reach success. After safety training, students jump right into building their starter projects (small kits that the students selected and only need to be assembled and tested, such as Mintyboost or miniPOV). After the daily 10 minute break, the instructor will lead a discussion on basic steps of designing a prototype and give students the assignment of creating their own project milestones. The ability to meet or exceed the milestone requirements will be one measure of the student’s success at the end of the program. Students will then be given free range to continue work on their starter projects.
The First Week…
…involves completing the starter project. This gives the students an opportunity to learn basic engineering tools and techniques. While finishing their starter projects, students create their project definitions, making sure they have all tools and parts required to meet their goals. After students complete their starter project they will make a video explaining the product’s parts and operation, and post it on their BlueStamp Engineering page. With the starter project deliverables met, He or she can move on to building the main project.
…are the most intensive ‘building’ period of the program, focused on giving students the time they need to complete their projects. In addition to building, students will get brief lectures, participate in discussions, and hear from guest speakers. Each Friday the instructors meet individually with students to have a short status meeting. They discuss the problems faced, the solutions found, and the approach the student plans to take for the next week. The last 30 minutes of Friday class is allocated for the students to discuss in a group setting the biggest milestones achieved and biggest challenge faced that week.
The lectures are interactive and tailored to class interest. They teach general principles that are required in building typical BSE projects. Some examples of brief lecture topics given by instructors are below.
- Electrical Topics (Ohm’s law, circuit components, LEDs, electrical power, etc…)
- Mechanical Design and Drafting (How to make a drawing so a machinist can make the part, strength calculations, etc…)
- Alternative Energy Pros and Cons (Why isn’t everything running on solar? Nuclear? Wind?)
- Starting Your Own Company (What makes a good start-up and the steps involved in getting it off the ground)
Approximately once per week BSE brings in a speaker who is an expert in their field. The goal is to give students a glimpse into the real world the expert experiences day to day and lead a discussion on how they met with success. Some examples of previous speakers are:
- Experienced Design Engineers
- Successful Entrepreneurs
- Current Engineering Undergraduates
- College Admissions Counselors
- Budding Entrepreneurs
The discussions touch on a variety of topics and are created to have the students probe the unknown in a group setting. Ideas are analyzed and debated in an environment where any notion can be put up for consideration.
- Failure (and how it is a great tool for success)
- What are the biggest problems your generation will face, and what solutions are on the table to address them?
- How can engineers and entrepreneurs make the biggest impact in the world?
…is scheduled towards the end of the program and allows the parents to spend more time with the staff, see what each student is building, and watch all students give a short presentation of their project.
The Final Week…
…is focused on implementing and experimenting with any unique customizations to the design, polishing the project, and preparing documentation. As with any product design, the documentation needs to be strong enough so that someone on the other side of the world can recreate the same results without any help. Examples of what documentation a student may need to complete are:
- Video documenting the device working and explaining the key parts
- An informal WordPress Blog article describing the project, the building experience, and where the base design came from
- Parts List (BOM)
- Circuit Schematics
- Mechanical Drawings
- Source Code
- List of tools and software required
- A document describing what is working well, any opportunities for improvement, and sharing nuances of the project that the student learned during construction.