Mechanical Integrator Project and Video

This is a project that I worked on in collaboration with Professor Michael Littman of Princeton University during the summer of 2021. I designed and built a working demonstration model of a mechanical integrator, such as those used in differential analyzers in the mid 20th century. The purpose of the project was to develop a modular tool for teaching the basics of analog computation, as well as to test the possibility of using such a machine as a supplementary tool for teaching calculus.

The machine itself is primarily 3D printed and makes use of a variety of off-the-shelf 3D printer parts. I designed it with an emphasis on visibility and modularity, and I implemented a variety of improvements, such as the use of an omni-wheel for the follower and the option to control input and output from either side of the machine. I designed all 3D printed parts in SolidWorks.

In order to empower the use of this project for STEM education, I also spent a significant amount of time shooting and editing an educational video explaining the function and history of the mechanical integrator, with a special focus on using the concept as a supplemental way of explaining calculus. This side project took about as long as building the machine itself, but I believe it makes the entire project astronomically more accessible, applicable, and useful.