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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Wish List

Note: The following items are suggestions and MORE than I expect. If you find yourself having purchased all things on this list, you have purchased too many things. 

Crafting Scissors: $16

Tool - Router                  Amazon $168 , Home Depot $160

Tool- Router Bit set         Amazon  $18  

Tool- Compact Table saw Amazon $300   Home Depot $200

socks- Shorter, for everyday or active events

Beef Jerky- Peppered

Board game

       Logo $13
      Timeline $15

Apple saucer machine- $55

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Science of Candymaking

Candymaking Party

My wife and I ordered Loran Oils off of Amazon to flavor fondant and had a taste testing party to see which flavor of dipped chocolates we should make for Christmas this year.
Loran Oils 
While I was making the fondant, I was curious why my mother's recipe strictly calls out to turn off the heat and pour the mixture at 238 degrees. I did some research to better understand the Science of Candymaking.

The Science:

The basics:
To make candy: you simply add sugar and water, heat it up, and cool it down. This is the basic process to make lollipops, fudges, or even English Toffee. The difference is the temperature the mixture reaches, how fast it is cooled down, and how much you mix/stir it.

Adding sugar until it is saturated. Heating up the mixture allows more sugar to be in solution. When it cooks, crystals start to form. By stirring and cooling it down quickly the crystals aren't allowed to grow very large.

Heat up to:

Stage-1 230 and 235. When quickly cooled, it forms a liquid syrup that is good for pouring over ice cream or decorating pastries.

Stage-2 235 and 240. When quickly cooled, the mixture transforms into a soft ball. This stage is good for making fondants and fudge.

Stage-3 245 and 250. When quickly cooled, the mixture transforms into a firm mass, This is the stage that is good for making caramels.

Stage-4 250 and 265. When quickly cooled, the mixture forms into a hard elastic mass. This stage is for making marshmallows, gummies, and rock candy.

Stage-5 270 and 290. When quickly cooled, this stage forms hard flexible strings. Think of pulling saltwater taffy and butterscotch.

Stage-6 300 and 310. When quickly cooled, this stage forms into a hard brittle mass. This stage is for making peanut brittle, English toffee, or lollipops.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Amazon Student!

If you're a college student, you HAVE to take advantage of Amazon's amazing offer. Amazon Student gives you a free 6 months of Amazon prime, with the option to go beyond 6 months at $49 a year, which is half of the regular price.

Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

If you are a poor college student and can only do the free 6 month trial, there are better times than others to start your free trial. In my experience, the best time of year to do Amazon Student is August through January. 

If you buy used textbooks on Amazon, you can save a ton of money. With this trial period you can get:

-textbooks in August for Fall Semester
-Black Friday shopping in November
-Christmas presents for the fam in December 
-textbooks in January for Winter Semester classes

This will give you free 2-day shipping on most items, if not all of your textbooks and it covers both semesters for the year.

Other perks of Amazon Student:

You’ll also receive unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows through Prime Video, access to unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos, as well as Student-exclusive deals and discounts. 

All you need to sign up is a .edu email address. What if I don't have a .edu email address

No problem! Most schools have .edu email available, or they will use an alias manager. For example, BYU doesn't have email hosting but you can set up an alias so you can use as an email address and then it just forwards all email to your normal email This is an easy way to keep your current email address and still have access to great benefits through Amazon.

Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Animals in water: Ants when it rains, Mosquitoes when it rains, the Wet Dog Shake, and Bugs Walking on Water

Have you ever wondered what happens to ants when it rains? Or how bugs can walk on water?

I was extremely privileged to hear from a leading researcher in this field. I attended a seminar at BYU where Dr. David Hu spoke about these topics. Dr. Hu earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He now teaches at Georgia Tech. Specifically, Dr. Hu presented on how water striders walk across water, how fire ants survive in water, how mosquitoes can fly in the rain, and how mammals dry themselves off.

    Dr. Hu showed a video of some water striders doing a mating ritual. The water striders liberally jumped and bounced across the water with ease. He explained that water striders have very hairy legs and stroke the water gently. They are able to stay on top of the water because of surface tension. They are able to move by transferring momentum to the water. In the picture below, you can see in the dye how the eddies trail behind the water strider. The insect is able to transfer its momentum back and forth to the water to push itself forward.

    Fire ants are inherently bad swimmers and water sticks to them easily. They could potentially drown in a rainstorm, but ants have figured out how to overcome it. Ants go into a Cassie-Baxter state, which means they make a water and an air layer. The ants form a 2 level raft and float on top of the water. The ants make artificial gills for themselves and trap pockets of air for them to breathe from. Dr. Hu performed an experiment with 10,000 ants to see how long it would take for them to create a raft. Starting in a sphere shape, the ants were dropped into the water and made a 2 layer raft within 2 minutes. The ants have mastered this skill. 

This video shows how ants can float in water, and create an air layer where they can breathe.

    Dr. Hu decided to study how mosquitoes can fly in a rainstorm because one day it was pouring rain, and still his two year old son got a mosquito bite on his forehead. Dr. Hu didn’t think this would be possible because a water droplet weighs about 50 times the amount of a mosquito.  By doing experiments, Dr. Hu predicted that a mosquito flying in a rainstorm would be hit by a raindrop every 20 seconds. The mosquito can’t fly fast enough to outrun the water droplet, but is able to take the blows. After many experiments, and analyzing slow motion footage, Dr. Hu figured out that the mosquito is able to softly take the force of the rain droplet by accelerating downwards with the droplet. Therefore, there is not much of an impact, and the droplet doesn’t decelerate or impart a big force on the mosquito.

    The last thing that Dr. Hu presented on was how mammals are able to dry themselves off. When a human gets out of the shower, it is covered in a water layer about 1/50 of an inch thick and weighs approximately 1 pound. For mammals, this number is much larger because they have fur and it absorbs the water. The mammal doesn't have enough energy to evaporate the water through heat, and would therefore contract hypothermia. The shake method is a solution and is a far better use of their energy. He said most mammals are able to get rid of 70% of their water layer within 1 second. Mammals do this by twisting or wringing their bodies.  As a trend, the larger the mammal, the lower the frequency that the mammal has to shake to get rid of the water. When you watch the video, notice how larger animals shake slower than the smaller ones.

I really enjoyed Dr. Hu's presentation. I thank him for the research that he has done. It has inspired me to want to study these same topics.

For more information:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Learn how to learn!

Imagine you are searching for a job in your engineering career. Boeing sounds amazing, but you have no idea how to use Catia, the CAD system they have used for the last 28 years. You would love to design cars for GM, Chrysler, or Mazda but you never learned how to use NX. There are many more CAD systems like Solidworks, Inventor, ProEngineer: why didn't we ever learn how to use these CAD systems?

There are so many options when selecting a CAD system, which CAD system should you learn?

If you all ready know which company you would like to work for, simply search online to find out which CAD system they use. However, for the 99% of us who don't know which company we are going to work for after we graduate, we need a different approach.

I am currently a college student working part time at an engineering company, and I know that CAD system skills are valuable. I have taken CAD classes in college, and was taught a variety of systems. At work, I use ProEngineer totaling 1000+ hours in design work. But is learning the wrong system going to hurt me? What if I don't end up at a company that uses the CAD system that I learned?

It doesn't matter! The secret is that I have learned how to learn CAD systems. Regardless of where I go, I will quickly get up to speed on the system. How did I do this?

First I learned the fundamentals of 3D CAD modeling. My CAD class had us build the same computer fan in 3 different CAD systems. This taught me to not focus on the CAD system, but the basics of 3D modeling. Many people may not be currently enrolled in an engineering degree. This definitely does not mean you are stuck. I found that YouTube is a great resource for helpful tutorial videos. I learned about extrudes, revolves, sweeps, chamfers, rounds, and many more 3D modeling basics. For example:

Get the fundamentals down, and then learning a new system is quite easy. All of the CAD systems have the same types of features. They can all extrude, or do revolves, or change the color of the surfaces etc. To learn a new CAD system, all you have to do is just learn where the buttons are to make those features. A lot of CAD systems these days even have a search bar in the corner of the screen. This makes it very simple to just type in the feature and have the program tell you the path to that button.I started in ProEngineer, but have become skilled in Catia, NX6, and Inventor. The key is that I learned how to learn CAD systems. Now when I look for jobs, I am confident that no matter what CAD system they have, I can quickly learn it. I will be able to design anything from airplanes, to cars, to whatever this is.

(No idea what this is, perhaps a spiked squid?)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Everything you need to know is on Youtube

            So I drive a vintage 1995 Honda Accord and recently it has been having some problems. I have yet to do any posts about the automotive field, so I decided I would document some of things that I am learning.

I do not profess to be an automotive expert or even a car hobbyist. I am a straight up car noob! At college, I am away from home and don't have the benefit of asking the car guys that I know for any help. But what I have come to learn is that everything you need to know is on Youtube!

A few weeks ago my car started shaking really badly. The engine sounded like it was running differently and I noticed that the shaking was exceptionally bad when I slowed down and was idling. My first thought was that there was something wrong with the spark plug. So I opened up the hood with my brother-in-law and inspected the Spark plugs.

This is what the inside of my car looks like....

Intimidating right?

What we found is that the first spark plug was not firing and that the cylinder it sits in had oil in it.

This is what a piston/spark plug/cylinder assembly that is firing is supposed to look like. (As found on Youtube)

If you notice in the video, there is a cylinder that has a piston that goes up and down. The animation even has spark plugs that ignite the blue fuel in the cylinder. The problem with my car, is that there was oil on my spark plug. There was so much oil that the spark plug was doused, sitting in a pool of oil, and was unable to make a spark. No spark = No firing piston = One man down. This animation video is of a 8 cylinder engine. My car only has 4 spark plugs. Because one of the pistons wasn't firing, the other 3 have to work extra hard and the crank shaft ( in the video it is the center rod in the middle of the assembly that is being turned or "cranked") may not be in sync. This is what was causing my car to shake.


Replace the spark plugs, and stop the oil from leaking into the cylinder again. How do you do that....?

So again, I went to Youtube to learn how to replace spark plugs. This is the exact video that I watched. Just ignore the 20 second weird introduction.

 I found the video extremely helpful and went to the local auto parts store and bought 4 brand new spark plugs. Total cost on spark plugs,$2 a piece = $8.

As you can see, the plug on the right is the new spark plug and is what it is supposed to look like. The spark plug on the left is bad. You can tell that it has been burned and scorched from sitting in and trying to ignite a pile of oil.

So for $8, we replaced the spark plugs, but we hadn't fixed the entire problem. Sure, we got all of the oil out of the spark plugs, but if we don't fix the source, more oil will just leak back in onto the spark plugs. So doing some more research on Youtube, I found a video to show me how to replace the valve cover gasket. I went to the local auto parts store and purchased a valve cover gasket set for about $20. My brother-in-law and I watched the video below a few times, and then went at it.

After only spending $30, and a little bit of time watching videos, my car runs like a champ! Everything you need to know is on Youtube.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Student Engineer in the Bearings Department

Sounds official right? That's because it is! About a month ago I got hired on at US Synthetic. This is the place that I worked at over the summer. US Synthetic is a company that mainly makes diamond bit cutters. Or in other words, they make synthetic diamonds to   put on oil drills to dig down into the Earth. Why diamonds? Because they are one of the hardest materials available.

During the summer I was a member of the press maintenance team. 
I worked on big presses like this:

To give you some perspective, this machine is probably 10 ft tall and weighs up to 80 tons. I would build, repair, and diagnose the presses. It was hard, laborious work, but I learned a lot and had fun.

I wanted to continue working there when school started, but they didn't have a part time position open in that area. So I stopped working and was just going to be a full time student. But a few weeks later, I heard about a job opening in the bearings department for a student engineer part time. I was super excited and applied for the job. After a few interviews, I was finally selected to be a part of the Bearings team!

I spend most of my time designing thrust/radial bearings for our customers. I found a site online that explains what we do.

"The company's bearing lineup includes radial bearings and thrust bearings, primarily for the oil and gas drilling industry. The bearings are designed for use in down hole motors, turbines, rotary steerable systems, drilling tools, heavy industrial equipment, and a variety of pump applications. Pump applications include extreme conditions transfer pumps, electric submersible pumps, stationary pumps, and injection pumps.

The bearing bodies themselves are machined from stainless steel. The antifriction surfaces placed into the bodies are polycrystalline diamond pads that have been built up on tungsten carbide substrates, then formed, precision machined, and placed with high precision.

The first picture is of thrust bearings. 

Other advantages of PCD bearings include their relatively small size for the load-carrying capacity, allowing tight packaging and exposure to extreme conditions. Also, because the bearings do not rely on rolling elements and have no moving parts, they have fewer failure modes and operational limitations."

In the picture just above, you see large and small diameter radial bearings.

It's been a lot of fun trying to solve problems as they come at work and I'm enjoying having a job with the word "engineer" in the position title.

Something interesting about US Synthetic is that they also have a factory on site called Suncrest Diamonds. They deal with REAL diamonds. Jewelry stores send them real diamonds, and have them change their color. So the factory makes pink, purple, yellow, and just about any color of diamond. They alter the color by adding nitrogen in between the carbon atoms of the diamond and heating it up in a press like the one shown above. Cool huh!?

Check out more at:

Information taken from :