What did you make and why is it cool?
I've been developing a quadcopter for use in aerial photography, known as the AeroCam. A quadcopter, sometimes called a drone or unmanned aerial vehicle, is a small remotely controlled or autonomous aircraft that uses sensors and an on-board "computer" to control four fixed vertical propellers, enabling it to move in any direction at speeds sometimes exceeding 20 kph, and also to hover. Quadcopters are fascinating because of the wide array of potential uses, from photography and videography to search-and-rescue operations.
How did you get started?
In fall 2013, I participated in an entrepreneurial design competition hosted by the Bucknell College of Engineering and the KEEN Program on a team with fellow students Matt Campbell '15, Zander Slavitz '15, J B Ring '15 and Emma Miller '16. The challenge was to design, pitch and build an inexpensive way to obtain aerial photographs. We took an ambitious approach and decided to spec a quadcopter, even though no one on the team had any previous experience with aerial vehicles. Our team assembled the quadcopter the night before the competition. Despite all of our troubles, the AeroCam flew very successfully on competition day and took home the trophy (though the AeroCam eventually crashed). From there it has been a slow and steady road of repairing, upgrading and designing.
I'm working on my piloting abilities, as well as designing new landing gear and main frames for the quadcopter. I'm also investigating a number of other applications for quadcopters and working on designing a new type of frame. This summer I'm working at a company that manufactures quadcopters.