I have just completed my first week as an intern under the Lemelson Foundation. It has been a very busy week accompanied with so many activities that were aimed at sharpening our skills.

On the first day of the internship we were given a general overview, the objectives of the internship as well as what is expected of us by the end of this program.

On the first day of the skills week, we started with Computer Aided Drawing (CAD). We used the Fusion 360 application to develop different 3D drawings which is an essential skill in the presentation of our ideas into drawings. We learnt as well how to get 2D projections of different views from 3D drawings.

The next day we started the soldering lesson. We learnt different items that are used in soldering and how to use them, as well as how important it is for a soldered joint to be both electrically continuous and mechanically strong.

Picture: Testing a soldered LED circuit

After that we learnt how to use a laser cutter to cut out different shapes from different materials. We did the laser cutting certification test to ensure that we were ready to safely operate the machine. We were then given a challenge to laser cut three gears which could move together when placed next to each other by rotating one of the gears. The challenge was aimed to improve our CAD, creative thinking and laser cutting skills.


We then had a 3D printing lesson which was aimed at giving us skills on how to use the 3D printer to print 3D structures. We had to create 3D drawings using Fusion 360, convert the drawing to STL files, slice the STL files (convert the files to G-code), send the G-code to the printer and finally use the printer to print the model. We also looked at some considerations to make when selecting the orientation of the model to be printed which were aspect ratio, overhang and direction of the load. In this lesson we were given a challenge to model a bridge and 3D print it to come up with the strongest bridge.

The last three days of the week we did Arduino programming which was aimed at sharpening our skills in Arduino. We were firstly introduced to simple Arduino programs to light LEDs as well as seven segment display. We then were introduced to different types of sensors and how to program them using Arduino. We were given an assignment to create a sumo bot, which is a robot that has to move within a circle without getting out as well as push other objects when it senses them. We had to pick a sensor, find how it works and explain its programming.

Picture: The early stages of a sumo bot design

To wind up, the first week equipped us with general skills that we lacked or weren’t good at as engineers. The skills are necessary in the conversion of ideas to reality. I look forward to revisiting everything we learnt in detail to widen my scope on  the use of the skills.

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