Undergraduate Blogs

I do some of my best thinking from the tops of trees.

Taylor Made: Fostering your own creativity

September 18, 2017 -
Layers of a tire

Taylor Made: Mechanics of tires

September 11, 2017 - One of the largest and most well known contributions to the aerodynamic performance of a car comes from its body shape and structure. However, characteristics of its wheels and tires can make a significant contribution as well. 
Skywriters at Oshkosh drew pictures overhead throughout the week.

Taylor Made: KOSH II - Experiences

September 5, 2017 - This is part two of my series about Oshkosh 2017 (aka EAA AirVenture). I spent four nights at Oshkosh this year after flying in with relatives in their Beech Sierra.
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Taylor Made: KOSH I - Innovations

August 25, 2017 - This is part one of my two-part series about EAA AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh, WI. Commonly known simply as “Oshkosh,” the weeklong event has always been a great place for learning about new ideas. Similar to my Feats and Fails posts, I am focusing on some of the concepts and products that were presented.

Taylor Made: Feats and Fails of Engineering, Vol. 2

July 26, 2017 -  
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Taylor Made: Pitch construction

July 21, 2017 - When Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone, he had the goal of blending the sounds created by woodwind and brass instruments. All wind instruments need vibrations in order to produce sound and are designed to amplify vibrations to create tones. Interesting fact: while brass instruments are actually made of brass (a copper/zinc alloy), woodwinds are made of wood or metal depending on the instrument. 
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Taylor Made: Feats and Fails of Engineering, Vol. 1

July 21, 2017 - In her summer blog series, Taylor finds the good, the bad, and the ugly in examples of engineering in her world.
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Did you know the surface area of a single human lung is roughly equal to one complete side of a tennis court?

Taylor Made: Mechanics of lungs

June 28, 2017 -   The lungs have bronchi that form in a fractal pattern mirroring that of tree branches.The surface area of a single human lung is estimated to equal roughly one complete side of a tennis court. Stretching the lung to its ultimate strength would cover an even greater area.
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In the spirit of knowing more about the world around us, Taylor explains some fun facts related to physics, chemistry, and electricity.

Taylor Made: Questions answered

June 19, 2017 -   Here is a hodge-podge of explanations I think are worth knowing. They’re related to questions I have asked or been asked.  Cheers to a little physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering.   Molecular form of chlorophyll.When static electricity is discharged during a storm in the form of lightning, the presence of that energy releases nitrogen from grass and other green plants.
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Taylor got to see the mechanical engineering feat that is the Indy 500, and tells us all about it.

Start your engines

June 14, 2017 -   Cars made laps around the track in less than a minute.
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Join Taylor on a walk down memory lane as she recounts all the milestones - happy, sad, and in between - of this past school year.

Spread your wings (or, insert your preferred graduation cliché here)

May 10, 2017 -   Think back with me for a minute. By the time we all got to campus this past August, Everitt Lab had already begun renovations to become the new College of Medicine building. The new program was a big project of past chancellor Phyllis Wise.
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In this continuation of her blog series, Views of MechSE, Taylor shares original photos she captures from around campus.

Views of MechSE: April gallery

April 26, 2017 - Construction on Green St. began outside the Illini Union. The bushes and trees that previously lined the north sidewalk were removed.   Construction soon moved east along Green St.  
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With so many varying properties, crafting wooden guitars involves a good deal of mechanics and physics.

Yes, they do sell guitars at Guitar World

April 24, 2017 -   As some of you will recall, TAM 324 teaches about the properties of hardwood vs. softwood. To recap, hardwoods are deciduous and softwoods are coniferous.  Deciduous trees shed their leaves annually, while coniferous trees produce needles and cones. Hardwoods have, on average, less variation in density than softwoods, but are not necessarily denser.
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As a MechSE student, you are part of a legacy of engineering students that's more than 100 years old.

A short history of MEL

April 19, 2017 -     Before MEB was built in 1947, MEL was actually called the Mechanical Engineering Building. It was built in 1905 at a cost of $25,000. Since then it has had several additions and expansions, including the massive renovation in 2002.     By 1930, the northern half of MEL contained the Power House and the Concrete Preparation Lab. The southern half had the Highway Lab and the Ceramics Lab.
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Inside the mechanics of a VCR and VHS tapes.

Old school videos

April 6, 2017 -   Before DVD players came out, videocassette recorders played analog videos using magnetism. VCRs came to the United States in 1977, a year after debuting in Japan.    VCRs play VHS (video home system) tapes that look a little like larger versions of the cassette tapes you can play in a tape deck.  The standard size VHS tape contains 800 feet of half-inch wide Mylar (polyester resin) tape.
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In this continuation of her blog series, Views of MechSE, Taylor shares original photos she captures from around campus.

Views of MechSE: March gallery

April 3, 2017 - Looking at Grainger from outside Engineering Hall.   Middle of March snow from the third floor of MEB.  
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With their engraved patterns engineered to produce sound, even records have a history based in mechanical engineering.

Good vibrations

March 26, 2017 -   Those familiar with music know that each conventional music note has a pitch, and each pitch is produced at a certain frequency.  We have common frequencies used to define where notes should be played—for example, 440 Hz for a middle A. Since wavelength is equal to speed * frequency  (where the speed of sound is 340 m/s), each frequency corresponds to the wavelength of the note.
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Taylor writes about the history of the world of steampunk, and its roots in mechanical engineering.

A different type of mechanical engineering

March 9, 2017 -   A real-life example of a machine similar to those inspired by steampunk is the mechanical computer model designed by Charles Babbage.The invention of electricity was a huge influence on the development of the country and its technology.
In this continuation of her blog series, Views of MechSE, Taylor shares original photos she captures from around campus.

Views of MechSE: January-February gallery

February 26, 2017 - Boneyard Creek with the waxing moon. New construction on Wright Street near the newly occupied MechSE West building.
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Want to get taller on the job? Become an astronaut.

How to get taller at any age

February 22, 2017 -   Photo taken on board the International Space Station. With no force acting on the body, the astronauts can align in any direction.Picture your body on a 3D Cartesian coordinate system with the Y-axis running parallel lengthwise along your back, the X-axis parallel to your shoulders, and the Z-axis going into the plane formed by the surface of your stomach.
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