Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Real Progress

Tuesday was a great day because of all the progress Marvin and I were able to make!  First - and most importantly - the IT Department finally came to our lab and not only loaded LabView onto our computer, but they also gave us administrative rights to load other required software.  A BIG thanks to Helen for all her efforts to make that happen.  I have loaded the Lego NXT software as well as one other program onto the computer so we now can get down to the business of programming the Lego robot.

Marvin and I also had a great meeting with Dr. Reinhard.  Not only did we discuss the parameters of the robot he wants us to include in our design, but we were also able to talk about the basic scientific aspects of his research along with his teaching methods for grad students.  We found several similarities between what Marvin and and I experience at the middle/high school grades and what Dr. Reinhard expressed for issues with his graduate students.

Marvin and I also were able to speak with Helen about how her efforts in the renovation of an existing lab based on the professor's input.  Depending on the level of the renovations, they can take anywhere from a month to over six months.  In fact, Helen is going to be renovating the lab Marvin and I are working in with our robot.  Yesterday some staff came in to start moving out the unneeded equipment.

Marvin and I also met with Bo and Yan to discuss upcoming lab work and we were able to schedule some times over the next couple of days to continue our observations of different lab procedures.

For the afternoon I was able to work on designing revisions to our existing robot car to build a platform that will hold a petri dish and cover.  The idea is to mount the sensor chip in the dish surrounded by fluid (NaOH) with the lid on.  We would drive the robot to the suspected explosive material and then raise the lid exposing the sensor for a period of time.  Then the lid would be replaced and we would drive the robot back and take out the chip for analysis.  The goal of placing the chip in the petri dish with fluid is to reduce the chances that the fluid would evaporate on the surface of the chip before it is exposed to the explosive material and thereby making the chip ineffective.  We still need to investigate exactly how we will be able to open/close the lid of the petri dish.

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