Successful freestyle tinkering


January 21, 2015

This year’s Build18, also known as the Freestyle Tinkering Festival, was a success. For five straight days, and often nights, over 200 engineers built intricate tinkering projects, ranging from desktop water fountains to hand gesture controlled puppets. Teams aimed to finish their designs by Friday, at which time all projects were on display for the much anticipated demo event, attended by students, faculty, sponsors, staff and alumni.

Build18 is often the highlight of the spring semester. “I participate in Build18 because it’s a great chance to take the things I've learned from my ECE classes and apply them to a project of my choosing,” said Robert Maratos, ECE sophomore from Newton, MA. “It’s also a lot of fun to see what other people are working on, and go to tech talks about emerging technologies.” Maratos was a member of the FPGA on the Web! team, which won the faculty award. “FPGA on the Web! allowed ECE students to access the FPGA boards used for the ECE digital logic classes to be accessed online. This would allow students to work on their labs remotely, without going all the way to Hamerschlag Hall.” Maratos explains. “This project wouldn't have been possible without the rest of my team; Jake Weiss, Edward Shin, and Chia Dai. I'd also like to thank professors Bill Nace and Don Thomas for their contributions to the project, both through supplies and their teaching.”

The intense week of building and tinkering concluded with the Build18 Banquet, held at Phipps Conservatory, where all builders were invited to celebrate their hard work. “The Build Banquet was my favorite part of Build Week,” said Maratos. But the tinkering didn’t stop there - K’nex were placed on each banquet table, and each table raced to see who could build a structure to the ceiling. After dinner, the keynote speaker, Mike Calcagno, Microsoft Director of Engineering for Bing Experiences, inspired students by gaving an energizing talk about the creative process behind upcoming Windows phone features. “The keynote by Mike Calcagno was one of the most honest and entertaining tech talks I've been to,” Maratos said.

Although this year’s Build18 might be over, the idea of freestyle tinkering is one that can be applied throughout the year. Take what you learn in class and apply it real world problems. Because after all, you learn best by doing.

Build18 Awards
First Penguin - Tree of Light
Lab Rat - Game Boy Suit
Media Magician - TARS
Faculty Award - FPGA on the Web!
Builders Choice - Walking Dog
Officer's Choice - Desktop Water Fountain Spectrum Display
Outstanding Project - Wizard Chess 
AlphaLabs Granteed Interview - CLAW

This event would not have been possible without the generous sponsors. Thank you for allowing students to tinker to their heart’s content. 

Contact: Krista Burns