Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Assembly? Didn't you mean DIS-assembly?

I have the best classes ever this semester. My first class is an entrepreneurship class, and my second class is about mechanical assemblies. I know non-engineers have a hard time understanding engineering classes, because when I talk about this class I get comments like "Assemblies? What is there possibly to learn besides how to stick one thing to another?" And the answer is, well, yes that's all there is. But sometimes it's very hard to get one thing to attach to another, and even harder to get 500 things to attach to each other...

I get the same look from non-engineers when I say things like, "Fluids class" or "Vibration class." Yes, I spend WHOLE SEMESTERS on topics like that. And I LIKE it. And that's why I'm an engineer, people, because normal folks wouldn't scan through the class catalog and say - ooh! Statics! I should totally take that! The study of things that DON'T MOVE OR DO ANYTHING INTERESTING AT ALL.

Ahem. Moving on.

So the assembly class has a project - each team has to pick a product, and during the semester we will analyze this product and how it is assembled.

My team chose a tape measure. We mostly didn't want to choose anything with lots of electronics, because none of us are interested in analyzing a circuit board. And we also wanted something with a manageable number of parts, not a camera with 300 little screws... So a tape measure it is.

But I suggested that before we make a final decision, we might want to make sure we could take the tape measure apart and put it back together again - because if we can't do that, it's going to be very tough to analyze.

Really, of course, I just wanted to know what was inside a tape measure. And I think that a good study of assembly should start with disassembly - right? right? Of course I'm right.


Now you know.

And that middle reel? The one marked "Do Not Open - Highly Stressed Spring"? (Not my hands in the next pictures, by the way - I got a considerably hairier labmate to hold the parts for me....)

I am particularly proud of the fact that although the middle reel also said in bold letters "Not Repairable," I did indeed re-wind the spring and reassemble the thing. And no, I didn't have any extra parts left over. :)

1 comment:

  1. I think most of the engineers in my vibrations class have a hard time understanding why there's a vibrations class. But it's so handy! You can model pretty much everything as a mass-spring-damper system...

    That assemblies course looks like fun! It's ridiculous how much work goes into the design/production of something as seemingly simple as a tape measure!