Projects

This page includes selected projects I’ve worked on, some for classes and some for fun. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in collaborating on a project! I especially like opera- and literature-related undertakings. I’m currently planning a multi-media exploration of the use of technology in theatrical stagings. I also have vague plans to put together a Wiki of freely available Dumas novel translations, with instructions for reading each series in order and warnings about the unreliability of some editions.

Petting cats virtually (2014)

In memory of Mikei Nekko, my beautiful cat

In memory of Mikei Nekko, my beautiful cat

"Pet the kitties" is a "revolutionary new app that emulates the experience of petting cats." Inspired by my severe cat deprivation, it was conceived and created on a long train ride between Munich and Vienna. It enables users to pet cat gifs, which respond by becoming animated.

I scoured the internet for the cutest cat gifs available and designed the user experience. (Tired of a cat? Simply stop petting it, and a new cat will soon appear!) Lucas Garron did the coding (and populated our original, offline version of the app with gifs from his collection).

You can try it out here or contribute to the project here. The experience is best on touchscreens, but you can also pet cats using your mouse pointer. No cat-and-mouse joke intended.

 


Organizing an online opera (2013)

I created the experimental company Opera Connect, which brought singers from across the world together to rehearse and perform entirely online. Opera Connect started as idle chatter one day between several members of the #operarox community on Twitter. They lamented the fact that distance prevented them from singing together and mused about the possibility of performing together online.

The company rehearsed and performed using Google+ multi-way chatting, which can be private (for rehearsals) or publically broadcast and saved to YouTube (for performances). Our performance was shared for free online, both live and after the fact.

Our inaugural performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas took place on 8 December 2013. The recording can be heard online at www.youtube.com/user/operaconnect. The production was funded by a grant from Awesome Without Borders.

While we are unsure how many people watched our performance, our innovative approach generated some media interest. I was asked to write about it for the Gates-Cambridge blog (cross-posted on the Huffington Post) and was interviewed on the radio station Cambridge 105.

Our cast: Naomi Woo (accompanist), Corinne Rydman (Dido), Dylan Hayden (Aeneas), Judith Lebiez (Second Woman / First Enchantress), Ilana Walder-Biesanz (Sorceress), Chen Chi-Wang (Spirit / Second Enchantress), Valerie Demma (Belinda) and Matt Prast (Sailor).

 


Building an agricultural drone (2013)

The AGCO team’s UAV, with the front open to reveal the interior electronics

Our UAV, with the front open

As a capstone project for my engineering degree from Olin College, I worked with four other students to build and test an autonomous UAV for AGCO Corporation. Our plane and analyses demonstrated the viability of UAVs for use in agricultural surveying and provided a research platform for AGCO’s further use. In the course of our research, we suggested potential profitable applications of agricultural UAVs and identified unsolved problems in the agricultural UAV space.

In addition to contributing to the construction of the plane and financial modeling, I managed the project for one of its two semesters.

Details of the project remain under NDA, but our investigation of UAVs for AGCO is being carried on by later classes of Olin seniors.

 


Using robots to frost cakes (2011)

A CAD rendering of our cake-frosting machine

A CAD rendering of AutoFrost

As a Principles of Engineering course project, a team of four other students and I built a two-axis computer-controlled cake-frosting machine. We called it “AutoFrost.” I wrote the Python software, which generated the GUI and transformed user input (on an MS Paint-style canvas) into numbers that could serve as motor instructions (once fed through our Arduino).

Our project led to purchase requests, job offers, and quite a bit of media coverage. It was written about in PopSci, Hack a Day, and Wired Gadget Lab. (Follow any of those links to see a video of the robot in action.) PopSci particularly praised my facetious design decisions: "The best part might be the personality the team injected into even the commands. When you've finished your drawing, you hit a button that reads, 'I'm ready to design an amazing cake.'" But the Wired headline is my favorite: “Students Build Cake-Frosting Robot, Should Win Nobel Prize.” We'd settle for an Ig Nobel, but the committee still hasn't called.

 


Competing with FIRST Robotics (2009)

  • Founded FIRST Robotics Competition teams 2002 and 2915; captained and project managed team 2915
  • Led grant writing, fund raising ($58,315 total over two years), and marketing, in addition to participating in robot design and construction
  • Helped team 2002 win the 2008 Team Spirit Award and team 2915 win the 2009 Rookie All-Star Award at the Oregon Regional
  • Took team 2915 to the 2009 World Championship
  • Delivered speech at regional competition (3,000 attendees)
  • Served as TV spokesperson for FIRST Oregon