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To Whom it May Concern


Thank you for considering my application. This portfolio shows some of the work I’ve done in my mechanical engineering coursework as well as one project related to my minor in computer science. In these classes I feel that I showed that I am self-motivated, a positive contribution to any team, multidisciplinary, and thoroughly enjoy learning new things.

Thank you, Ethan Nash

ME 324: This class was about Precision Engineering. We learned how to use precision measurement tools to make repeatable, accurate measurements as well as some techniques to be able to make those tools. We also learned the principles of precision engineering. The most important thing I learned from this class was that using these principles of precision engineering could lead to better solutions when designing products, even if precision is not a requirement of the product. The bulk of this class consisted of our final group project. We worked in groups of three to design and build a solution to precision problems our instructors gave to us. Our project was related to the Stanford Gravity Probe B experiment. In order for this experiment to be successful, it is vital that gyroscope spheres be extremely round. To measure the exact roundness of these spheres, Stanford was working on building a roundness measuring machine. Our project was to build a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) that would be used on this roundness measuring machine. LVDTs are useful in measuring displacement and the idea of the machine was to slowly spin a small sphere in a circle and the LVDT would detect out-of-roundness by keeping a probe in contact with the sphere and detecting displacement. The goals of our LVDT were to make it small, easy to use, inexpensive, and, most importantly, have very high repeatability (sub-micron). For this project we were given a charge-coupled device (CCD), which are devices that measure light intensity for cameras. CCDs are an enabling technology for precision measurement because they can store a lot of data in a very small area. Our CCD had 3648 pixels, each of which could measure 64,000 levels of light intensity. This is an enormous amount of data and our goal was to harness this data into displacement measuring. Our first step was brainstorming some ideas to harness this data and we came up with the following ideas.
Size Mech. Complexity Elec. Complexity Robustness Feasability

Diffraction Grating


Laser, Grating, CCD, Flexure

CCD, wires, phase High locking


Shadow Blade


LED, Diffuser, CCD, wires, phase High Blade, CCD, Filter, locking Flexure CCD, wires, phase Medium locking CCD, wires, laser, phase locking Medium


Aperature Grating

Also small Laser, Two gratings, CCD, Flexure Medium Laser, Beam splitter, Mirrors, CCD, Flexure






Rotating Mirror


Flexure, 2x Precise square wave Plates, Dialectric signal, measure risetime Flexure, Mirror, CCD, wires CCD Flexure, More Mirrors, CCD CCD, wires





Multiple Mirrors




Our favorite idea from this group was the concept of a shadow blade. The idea was to have an angled blade across the CCD with a uniform light source coming from above. Where the CCD was not blocked by the blade, it would read maximum light intensity. Where the CCD was entirely blocked by the blade, it would read zero light. In between, however, the CCD would read a shadow of the blade and the light intensity would slowly increase. We hoped to process this data and be able to measure the displacement.

Our first step was to build a rapid prototype of our machine to test this signal. We built a foam core black box that could house our CCD in a dark environment, a lid with a uniform light source (a row of small LEDs), and a “sled” where we could push our shadow blade back and forth to simulate displacement.

Prototype Box

Unfortunately we found that the shadow blade concept didn’t work due in large part to noise in the CCD. The signal would bounce up and down so our processing algorithm would detect large amounts of motion even when the blade was perfectly still. We deduced that we needed a symmetrical peak in our signal rather than a gradual slope and proceeded to prototype new types of “blades” that might achieve this result.

Shadow Making Shapes

Using the grating with multiple slits (top left in the above figure, achieved by cutting slits in foam core with a laser cutter) we got some remarkable results. Using our own data processing algorithm to process the signal, we achieved static stability of about 50nm. This was from a little prototype that used about 2$ worth of foam core and a handmade LED light source.

Foam Core Grating

CCD Signal From Final Box

The next step was to design and build our final product. We soldered the LEDs and USB power source on a PCB board, made the flexure on a wire EDM machine, and the box and mounts were made on a mill.

The light source was a onedimensional array of very weak, rectangular LEDs. This proved to be a nearly uniform light source.

LED Mount

The flexure doubled as the multiple slit grating. The LVDT probe attached to the flexure and displacement in the probe would displace the flexure in a one-to -one ratio.

CCD Mount


CCD Electronics and Lid

Final Box with Probe (3”x3”)

Finished Box

The final step in our project was to calibrate the device using our school’s laser interferometer and interpret the results. We estimated our device to have a precision of about 5-10 nm and a repeatability of about 100nm. It was easy to use, had a cost of only a few hundred dollars, and was compacted in a 3” by 3” box. These performances met or exceeded are goals and we were very happy with the final product.

ME 203: ME 203 was a design and manufacturing class that utilized the Stanford Product Realization Lab (PRL). The lecture of the class focused on the various manufacturing processes available in the PRL (milling, the lathe, casting, welding, sheet forming, injection molding, and various others) as well as other processes like forging, stamping, and auto manufacturing that the PRL did not support. The other part of the course was a hands on introduction to machining. Each student individually designed and created a unique product using the tools in the PRL. This included need finding, rapid prototyping, CAD modeling, machining, and testing. I made a bike lock inspired by handcuffs. Most bike locks on the market make a complete loop around both the bike and the pole the bike is locked to in order to lock the bike. My bike lock has a single cuff that is intended to enclose only the pole. The cuff extends a chain which is locked permanently to the bike. The result is a lock that is lightweight and faster to apply than standard locks.

Original CAD model of the cuff lock

Concept Sketches

Rapid Physical Prototype

Problems with the original prototype:   The lock I originally intended to use was far too heavy and bulky for a bike lock. It was sleek and had a cool hidden padlock but I ultimately switched to a small ¾ inch padlock. The hinge mechanism for the cuff was not worked out yet. This design had a simple hinge at the base of the cuff, my final design used a shoulder screw which was a much more solid mechanism.

CAD (SolidWorks)

Single Cuff

Lock Holder

Manufacturing Process Photos

The steel cuff hemispheres were made on the rotary table by cutting at two different diameters. On the same mill I drilled the holes for the lock and shoulder screw, made 45 degree chamfers, and cut into the metal to make it thinner at some points (where the cuffs overlap at the hinge and near the lock to support the lock holder). The cuffs were finished with a black powder coat finish, which was done off site. stFinal Product

The lock holder part was made on the mill starting with a block of aluminum. The design of this part was tricky because I wanted it to be sleek and organic looking while making sure I could make all it on the mill. The purpose of the lock holder is to hide a padlock inside an aesthetic body that matched the geometry of the cuff.

Finished Product Photos

ME 101 Visual Thinking ME 101 was a design course. We learned about the design process including need finding, sketching, and prototyping. One of our main projects in the class was was inspired by Rube Goldberg machines. We were in groups of three and were required to build two machines. The two machines were placed next to each other. One machine was triggered, followed by a 5 second delay, then moved backwards two feet, then another 5 second delay, then threw a ping pong ball to the other machine. The other machine then caught the ball, 5 second delay, moved backwards 2 feet, 5 second delay, and threw the same ping pong ball back. The only material requirements were no metal except paper clips, springs (no mouse traps), and magnets and we had to spend less than $50. Our machines were unique because they were cleanly and elegantly built and they had some pretty creative mechanisms for the 5 second delays. My favorite contribution to the group was a balloon timer. We filled a balloon with air and built a cage around it. Above the balloon was a cart that contained a golf ball. At the bottom the balloon was inserted into a pinhole and plugged at the bottom with a magnet. As a trigger, the magnet was pulled from underneath the balloon and it slowly released air. As the air was released, the volume of the balloon decreased, allowing the cart to slowly drop. When the balloon was fully deflated the golf ball popped out from above.

Balloon timer with inflated balloon

As attached to the machine

A full video of our machines as well as some close up shots of each step can be viewed at:

CEE 80N This was a freshman introductory seminar about the art of structural engineering. One interesting project that we did was a bridge building competition using spaghetti and epoxy.

From the beginning, we wanted to implement some sort of arch-like design, and our original bridge design was very true to that form. It consisted of three upper elements gradually working their way down to the supports. This is contrary to our final design, which has two elements going directly to the base. The reason we changed was primarily construction constraints: our original design was much too difficult to construct out of spaghetti and epoxy given its complexity and number of elements. Our final design was a simplified version of the original, but still followed the same basic concepts. The form was somewhat reflective of the bending moment diagram. Our Mastan model showed that the upper elements would have a greater internal force than the deck or vertical elements, so we made those much thicker than the rest of the bridge. We also wanted to make the bridge single planar so the middle upper elements were centered along the bridge deck. As a result, our vertical components were A-frames. Although this construction was more difficult, we think that by reducing the number of joints, our bridge was stronger. The following diagram shows the result of our Mastan analysis:

The mid-span deflection was minimal for this analysis. This analysis would indicate that for a pint load of 100 lbs, our bridge would have done just fine. Our bridge failed at 61 lbs. It failed because the upper element on the right side buckled at the joint with the quarter point vertical support. Given that failure, the base snapped near the quarter point. It seems as though this was a result of the elements not being lined up properly, so given the decently large forces in those elements, there was a buckling effect. This was a result of our imperfect construction techniques. This project taught us how much time and effort actually goes into the design process, and we learned that designing something that can be easily manufactured is as important as is We learned about the importance of construction the joints well, as well as precision in aligning the elements. Were we to redesign this bridge, the first thing we would do is reduce the amount of spaghetti we used in the 0 elements. Although they were helpful during construction, they are not load bearing under a point load at the middle. They only decreased the efficiency of our design by adding extra weight. The most significant change would be how we constructed our joints. It would have been greatly beneficial to really work on getting the elements lined up properly, and perhaps even employing some sort of joint system to maximize the effectiveness of the joint. Finally, we would simply extend the bridge to ensure that the truss meets the base at each support, rather than a few centimeters from the edge.

CS 147 – Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction This was a very interesting class that went into the design process from a computer interface perspective rather than the physical product side that I had experience in. The class was about usercentered design and we did a lot of need finding and user-testing. The main focus of the class was developing our own web app in groups of three. Every week we had a different task related to user centered design, such as paper prototyping, heuristic evaluations, development, user testing, online testing, and polishing. My group created an app titled “Golf Guru” that focused on the challenge of playing a new golf course for the first time. The app used a wiki-style user created database for hole-byhole guides on how to play courses. The app features hole-by-hole analysis, satellite images via Google maps, personal notes, and a scorecard. The idea for the app was that golfers who played a course a lot could provide a hole by hole guide to visiting players. This was my first web production project but as an avid golfer I was able to contribute a lot to what the content and interface of the app. The interface was made using JQuery Mobile and the backend was made with Django. Below is a one-slide introduction we created for Golf Guru.

The above picture gives shows the main features of the app, unfortunately the full, online version has been taken down as we no longer pay for the url. In addition to what is shown above, there was functionality for a user profile where users could store favorite courses, post their scores, track their hole edits, and view other profiles.