Energizing Our Cubes

Click here to see the Prezi I made for the Energy Cube presentation day.

Click here to see the Prezi I made for the Energy Cube presentation day.

Last week we subjected our Energy Cubes to heat and light — and we measured how well they performed at keeping heat in while simultaneously admitting light. Today the students presented findings from last week’s Energy Cube performance testing.

The discussed their design process, results, analysis, and interpretations. They explained what they think they did well, and what they would improve upon for the next time.

I made a Prezi slide show of pictures for today’s presentations. You can click on the title slide (to the right) to view the Prezi, of view the images below to get a sense of the performance testing and the process of building the Energy Cube models.

I conducted the lighting test, although there aren’t any photos of that because I had my hands full. Michael O’Flaherty conducted the thermal test, as you can see near the end of the Prezi slide set, or in the small gallery below.

Energy Cube — Build Day

Fionnuala advising an Energy Cube team.

Fionnuala advising an Energy Cube team.

Nowadays when you arrive in DIT’s four-year engineering program, you will complete three group-based design projects prior to selecting a specific engineering major: a bridge design project (to familiarize you with civil and structural engineering), a RoboSumo project (to learn about robotics, electrical, and electronic engineering, and programming), and an “Energy Cube” project (as an introduction to mechanical, product, and building services engineering).

The Energy Cube project is currently coordinated by a diverse and multi-disciplinary group of teachers. Fionnuala Farrell is a product design and manufacturing engineer, John Nolan is an expert in engineering drawing, and Micheal O’Flaherty is a building services engineer. 

This team built a geodesic dome for their Energy Cube.

This team built a geodesic dome for their Energy Cube.

I’ve been assisting them and contributing the perspective of an architect. I’m not involved in grading, since I’m interviewing some of the students for my research, but I attend classes to better understand what it’s like to learn and teach engineering. 

Fortunately, I know how to do all the parts involved in this project: designing buildings, identifying client needs, defining product evaluation criteria, collaborating, calculating volumes, making scale translations, predicting thermal performance using mathematical calculations, designing the lighting scheme, building models, testing performance, keeping records, and presenting work in writing as well as verbally.

For the students, though, this combination is a tall order!  They have a total of six sessions, four hours each (on Friday afternoons!?!!) to design, build, test, and present their Energy Cubes. Whew!

Lecturers Fionnuala Farrell, John Nolan, and Michael O'Flaherty surveying results of "the build."

Lecturers Fionnuala Farrell, John Nolan, and Micheal O’Flaherty surveying results of “the build.”

Moreover, they are working in assigned (rather than self-selected) groups of four. Learning to work with strangers isn’t always easy. They’ve done an admirable job.

Our second of four sets of students will test their cubes later today. I’ve posted photos of what the Energy Cube build looked like last week.