997 Words long for the Daily Cramp contest
|I wanted to do something with my life.
And he endless slog of worthless classes I took were not going to help me get there. I wanted to be solving real problems, not arbitrary differential equations.
Which is why when I saw an advertisement for a class named “Innovative Engineering (IE)” I jumped on it. I signed up instantly. It was an impulse decision, but since I always doodled crazy inventions on my TechPad instead of paying attention in Math it seemed perfect for me.
On the first day of class I entered the classroom via two giant steel doors. It was like a portal to a new world.
The room was filled with the buzz of technology, full of giant machines that resembled sewing machines. They were ceramic, white in color, and so shiny that they reflected the lights atop the room and the screens surrounding them. On the left side they were bulky cube, as if this were its engine. This is where all the machinery that made them run lay and it was protected by the gleaming white ceramic. The rest of the machine compromised of two shelves. The bottom shelf was waist high and made of the same ceramic on the bottom and the sides. On top it was clear glass revealing complex machinery. The top shelf was a few inches above the head and ceramic covered the top. On the bottom of this top shelf was a bunch of extended robotics. They looked like little arms each with some kind of tool in their hand designed to perform a certain task. In front of this was a large TechPad where all the students busily tapped away. It was all very sleek and shiny with a certain cosmetic grace that made them seem simple despite how complex they were.
The purpose of these fascinating machines overwhelmed me with curiosity. So I walked over to the nearest student hard at work. I stared over her shoulder and looked into the screen. It displayed a 3D butterfly and the student was adding bits and pieces of detail. It looked quite lifelike but mechanical especially on joint between body and wing. The student had spent a lot of time on this design.
My first thought was that this was a fellow procrastinator drawing robo-butterflies instead of doing her work. How wrong I was.
I realized that these were giant 3D Printers.
She hit a button that said PRINT and the machine sprung to life. It hummed for a few seconds processing the design in some way. A blue light began to shine from behind the glass of the bottom shelf. One of the robot arms sprung to life and began producing a trail of white plastic behind it. The student stood back and looked at me with a smile. After a while the robot had created the rough shape of 2 wings and a body, all separate and plastic. The wings looked pixelated with gaps in between some of the rows created by the robot, and rough around the edges, not like the sleek curves of the design. The body was made of a triple layer of plastic creating what looked like a tiny rectangle.
As soon as the plastic creating robot was done a heat started emanating from the machine. It melted the wings into a thin coat of plastic and the body lost all angles becoming a melted heap. It cooled down and another robot arm sprung to life. From its point shot a tiny red laser onto the wing. It floated gracefully around the first wing as the laser cut into the plastic. The precise cuts created the intended shape of the wings making them clear and smooth. It did the same for the other wing and left the body alone.
Another robot arm, this time with a large tube at the end sucked up the body and spit it out giving the body a look of a fat worm.
At this point one of the robots activated and it carried with it a small circular hinge that looked exactly like the mechanical hinges that attached the wings to the body in the design. Sure enough that is what they were and the robot arm installed them both attaching the 3 pieces together. A small battery pack was also attached to the body of the butterfly and wires connected it to the wing hinges.
The final step was two robot arms coming down and painting the butterfly. One arm had a sprayer which sprayed cyan all over the butterfly, the other was a brush which painted red dots around, the wings were mirrors of each other, it looked even more beautiful than the design. The machine heated one more time, without any noticeable melting and hummed to a stop.
It was marvelous to watch. Precise and beautiful. The machine hummed with purpose throughout the proceedings.
“If you thought that was cool check this out” said the student as she reached into her bag and grabbed her personal TechPad. Displayed were a set of controls not unlike those of a drone.
The butterfly leaped to life when the student told it to do so. It fluttered for a few moments struggling to lift from the ground but eventually gained momentum and then flew from its birthplace out into the room. It looked beautiful, and from far away real. It fluttered to keep itself airborne and many of the other working students stared up in amazement.
It was as if she had created life. It dove through the other students as they worked and brought joy to each as it passed. It resembled a real butterfly all to perfectly.
Suddenly I noticed a red butterfly across the room, then a green one, and soon the room was filled with mechanical butterflies. It was like walking into the butterfly room at the zoo.
It was at this point that I realized Innovative Engineering was for me.