Access Engineering At Penn

Offering free and accessible college-level engineering labs to high-school students

Computer Science Lab Pt. 2 and Biological Engineering Lab, October 25, 2014

Our lesson plan on Saturday, October 25th continued our exploration into the field of computer science and also engaged students with a biological engineering lab. During the first half of this week’s three-hour session, students learned about conditionals, Boolean operations and loops. After some review of last week’s computer science topics, the students were able to construct basic programs, setting the stage for developing more difficult coding projects in the coming weeks. For the second half of the lesson, we presented the students with a lab that allowed them to make their DNA visible. This lab was coupled with a short lecture about the basics of DNA science and genetic engineering. Members of Access Engineering shared their own research interests and experiences to give real-world uses for the lab procedure and lesson.

Mechanical Engineering Lab Pt. 2 and Computer Science Lab, October 18, 2014

Access Engineering’s lesson on Saturday, October 18th built on last week’s mechanical engineering lab and introduced the fundamentals of computer science. During the three hour session, the second of eight lessons this semester, students were split into two sections. The first used the catapult arms the students designed and 3D-printed last week. The students finalized and constructed their catapult designs before engaging in a friendly competition considering design, distance shot and weight of the catapult construction. After a morning learning about mechanical engineering in the catapult design competition, we engaged students with an introduction to the Java programming language. The students learned about basic data types, variables and Boolean logic. Continuing next week, students will begin to develop and write basic coding applications, continuing with our theme of computer science.Here are the results from last week’s catapult competition:

Section 1:

Group Distance Mass (lb)
No Pressure 1 .36
I don’t know 2 .20
Surrender 3 .12
21 3 .22
Section 2:
Group Distance Ranking Mass (lb)
N.E.R.D.S. 1 .18
Chipotle 2 .22
Underachievers 3 .42
No Pressure 4 .36
The Untouchables 5 .12
Mario Bros 6 .20
Flawless 7 .22
Surrender 8 .12
IDK 8 .20
21 8 .22

Mechanical Engineering Lab, October 4, 2014

On Saturday October 4th, 27 9th, 10th and 11th graders from Northeast High School traveled down to Penn’s Detkin Laboratory to learn about what it’s like to study engineering from Penn undergraduate students. The three hour session was the first of an eight week program put together by Access Engineering, a new volunteer organization at Penn. The theme of the week was mechanical engineering presented to the high school students in the form of a design challenge. The challenge involved designing a catapult with one piece designed by the students from scratch. They used the 3D modeling program SolidWorks to design the lever arm of their catapult. While designing their part, the students had to consider many factors including ensuring the part would interface with the rest of their design, maximizing effectiveness and minimizing materials costs, three factors applicable to the engineering process in general. The pieces they designed will 3D printed in preparation for the design completion taking place during the next Access Engineering lab on October 18th.