Electrical Engineering

Haiti Update

I finally got out the last batch of the letters I’m planning on sending for fund raising purposes. Inevitably, there are some people who I didn’t send letters to who may feel left out. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send letters to everyone. It takes a lot of time and energy to address and prepare letters (plus 44 cents in postage). I targeted people who I though would not read my site on a regular basis and/or would be interested to know what I was up to. Please consider this letter personally addressed to you.

Last night our group received a list of what Bruce and Deb hope for us to accomplish. There were many things on the list, mostly dealing with some basic construction needs a la High School Mexico Mission Trip

Of particular interest to be are:

  • Troubleshoot the wiring from the generator to the well and find out why it is not pumping water to the school.
  • Look at an possibly improve the wiring for the generator and school and church there, or at least plan what should be done.
  • The church has a fledgin ‘computer center’ with a couple of computers and an internet connection. I don’t know what shape it is in but I need to talk with the pastor to see if he wants anyone to work with some of the teachers and their instructors on this.

The internet connection in our team house does not at present work. We have not been able to re-aim the satellite dish with the new transmitter even though we have the right equipment and have done it before. This is a prayer request. If it is not working when you get here, if anyone can help us we would appreciate it.

All these things make me very excited! I’m pretty good at trouble shooting and I love guerrilla improvisation. I’ve already relayed a message1 back to Bruce asking for more information so I can read up on the right specs and bring the correct tools.

I’ve been reading up on Haiti (here, here, and here), including the fact that it is perceived as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, even more than Russia.

Some important dates to keep in mind:

  • January 3rd, 7pm – Commissioning at UPC Evening Service
  • January 5th, 7:30pm – Commissioning at Convergence
  • January 8th, 12pm – Depart Seattle
  • January 18th, late at night – Arrive Seattle

I can’t believe I’ll be in Haiti in less than a month; better start packing!

  1. It was really just a volley of questions 

Electrical Engineering Presentation

  • Mines

Last semester, I was asked to do a presentation for WEBELOS Scout Badge Day on electrical engineering (go figure). Anyway, I was asked to do it again this semester because apparently I’m one of three electrical engineers on campus who they figure is up to the challenge1.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the 4 hours to spare this weekend so I had to pass on helping out. However, they still want to use my presentation2. I still had it on my computer, so wrote some notes in the presenters comments and I’m releasing it under a CC license.

The target audience is pretty young, so I skipped over all the words (at least as much as I could) and went straight to pictures and a couple of videos. The notes are far from complete, so you’ll need to have at least some sort of background in electrical engineering to be able to explain everything.

Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy!

I also a collection of electrical-related images that might be of interest as well:

You’ll need to download both video files and either the PPTX (preferred) or PPT file.

The presentation is released under a Creative Commons license:
Creative Commons License
Electrical Engineering by Andrew Ferguson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://andrewferguson.net/some-rights-reserved/.

  1. I actually have no idea if this is true or not. The email was just addressed to me and two other EE’s 

  2. Which I’m told was “really great” 

Alumni Profile: Andrew Ferguson ’04

Over winter break, I had a chance to talk with Michael Fiorito, a faculty member at Seattle Academy (where I went to high school). He asked me to write a “synopsis of [my] scholastic and internship experiences for the alum newsletter.” The profile I wrote was just published in the Summer 2008 edition of After SAAS. The following is the original article I sent to Michael and is slightly different then the version published in After SAAS.

I graduated in June of 2004 and spent the summer having fun (as opposed to working). I started at the Colorado School of Mines in the Fall of 2004 and I’ll be graduating in May of 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering with a Specialty in Electrical Systems and an Area of Special Interest in Mechanical Systems.

I interned in the IT department at Nordstrom in Downtown Seattle the summer after my freshman year. It was a great experience and a great primer for working in the “real world.” Contrary to popular belief I was not a secretary and did not have to fetch coffee and make copies for the higher ups. My time at Nordstrom was spent helping with the 4th release of the Point-of-Sale system and included everything from helping run tests after the builds were updated (called smoke testing) to creating a database to help coordinate the nationwide training process to creating materials for the training processes.

I went back to school and studied some more. I was also the Chief Engineer for Mines Internet Radio, a new club on campus that was formed to broadcast music and sports games to students, parents, faculty, alumni, et al. We received funding from the school and I spent a large majority of my free time setting up computers, a server, remote broadcast system, website, and all the other things that fell under the per view of the Chief Engineering (which, as it turned out, was a lot). I also applied to, and interviewed with, the CIA; although I did not get in (they rarely accept students who are not juniors or seniors). However, an internship at Boeing ended up finding me. So the summer after my sophomore year, I worked at Boeing at Kent Space Center in Kent, Washington for the Integrated Defense Systems division (side note: the Lunar Rover was built in the building next to where I worked). I was tasked with writing code for a pending upgrade to the United States Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) fleet. In a word, the experience was: phenomenal. I had a fantastic mentor, an excellent boss, working at a fantastic job, doing something exciting.

I went back to school again, studied even harder and decided to come back to work for Boeing again (at the end of the previous summer, they had invited to me to come back again and placed me on Educational Leave of Absence). So I came back to the same group (USAF AWACS upgrade). But software programming wasn’t my thing. I had made this known at the end of last summer and on my last day, I asked what my other options were. I sat in on a meeting with the Mission Computing Hardware group and so I made my home there for this summer. My job this was a lot more interactive. I designed, updated, marked up Interface Control Documents (large drawings and documents that show where cables connect to, what type cable it is and what type of connector is needed). I also was tasked with selecting some of the hardware for the AWACS. Again, I had a great time and learned even more.

I’m now a non-graduating senior (4th year) with the end in sight. I left Mines Internet Radio at the end of last year to pursue other endeavors and I’m currently involved with a team on campus that is working on building a rover for a NASA contest to scoop up 150kg of lunar regolith (moon dirt) in under 30 minutes. I’ll be taking a three week field session this summer (a requirement to graduate from Mines) and then heading back to Boeing where I’ll work with the same group, but a different project which is to be determined.

Other things of note:

  • The summer after my freshman year, I spent a weekend (and then some) participating in a 72 hour film competition. I started out as an assistant and ended up editing the film when the other editor left. We won the Audience Award for our entry “No Witnesses”.
  • I’ve entered several photos over several semesters in our schools art shows.
  • I maintain a blog, https://www.andrewferguson.net, where I write several times a week.

Senior Project: Day 11

  • SAAS

I’ve been working on some finishing touches to the mechanical design of R2. That includes creating a battery rack to house to the two batteries. One battery provides power to the onboard computer (6 volts). They other battery provides power to the linear actuators that control the steering, accelerating, and braking systems (12 volts). It’s not exactly electrical engineering, it’s more mechanical engineering, but that’s why I like EE: it combines Computer Sciences and Mechanical Engineering, plus some other stuff into a nice little bundle of joy. Woo-hoo!