Chau Van is a UC Berkeley senior studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who was first introduced to the CITRIS Invention Lab when she took the Design Innovation 22 course with Lab Manager Chris Myers. Van discussed the impact that the Invention Lab has on her life at UC Berkeley, which includes project support and guidance from CITRIS Invention Lab Manager Kuan-Ju Wu.
“The Invention Lab has been really useful for me. It’s an interdisciplinary environment that prepares you to look at big ideas and then apply them to different aspects of work. I work with the 3D printers, so I’ll check up on the prints and see what everyone’s printing – especially the mechanical engineering students printing out robotic parts, which helps me better envision what I want to do.
“My most proud achievement was inspired by the NASA Curiosity Rover, a six-wheeled differential crawler that can traverse terrain. The one we created can climb stair-like obstacles more than half of its height. I’m especially proud of it because my partner and I got it done in a month and we built it all from scratch. I went out of my comfort zone and worked on a bit of everything on the project: the mechanical, software, and fabrication needs.
“I interned for a robotics startup and was responsible for the full cycle. In addition to writing and testing the software, I worked with mechanics to integrate it. One of the responsibilities was getting things industrially manufactured, kind of similar to what I’d learned through the Invention Lab, but instead of laser-cutting some metal sheets and welding them together, we worked with the remote manufacturer. It was good to have that kind of experience, where I could jump into CAD and make sure that what I had intended matched up with mechanical. Having that kind of design background allowed me to better convey my project in terms of the UI and the controls. And it provided pretty good documentation, especially for robotics, which is a little less on the code itself, but more of the control systems. It was a little unexpected, but the big ideas and the little things that you work on in the Invention Lab can help you build up to a bigger project for sure.”
Photo Credit: Photo of Chau Van by Kuan-Ju and project photos by Jeremy Rine
The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.
To learn more about CITRIS, sign up for our newsletter: bit.ly/SubscribeCITRIS