Mentor Visit Assessment 1

My first mentor visit included going over the mentor handbook and discussing my final product. We went over the expectations for both me and Mr. Ekpete in the ISM program. After discussing availability, we decided that meeting for two hours every other week works best. We also discussed the possibility of touring the Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, my mentor’s workplace, and the logistics.

The focus of this mentor visit was my final product proposal. After reading my first draft, Mr. Ekpete had a few suggestions and questions. First off, my product is simply a design, not a prototype. In some areas of my paper, that concept was not as clear as it should have been, so I changed that. Mr. Ekpete also suggested that I broaden my scope of the potential market to include any sectors that involve prosthetics and bone/muscle strengthening. I never really realized the far reaching impacts of this research topic. I think I narrowed my mindset into space science and astronautics, so I easily discounted other areas. Physical therapy can greatly benefit from an exoskeletal design. This expands the area covered by this research, making it a topic I could continue far past ISM and into college and beyond.

We also addressed the engineering method, the format followed by engineers to solve problems they are confronted with. It is the format I will be using for my entire final product. The method/design process is broken into multiple steps:

  1. Defining the problem

  2. Conducting background research

  3. Specifying requirements

  4. Brainstorming solutions

  5. Developing a solution (PROTOTYPE)

  6. Testing solutions

Almost every time, testing highlights issues in the product, forcing engineers to repeat steps 4-6 for every issue that arises until the product fulfills all initial requirements. When I am creating my final product, I will be going through this process on a smaller scale to create the best design possible for my capabilities. This discussion made me realize that I need to begin my research for the current exoskeleton materials and commonly used materials in prosthetics and physical therapy, both of which will be very useful for my final product material.

Going forward, the next mentor visit will focus on brainstorming different designs and going over tours and visits. Other than the Lockheed Martin tour, an experience that will almost certainly be exciting a breathtaking, I also need a tour of the material science lab of a university. Mr. Ekpete suggested UNT. After reaching out to Dr. D’Souza, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at UNT, we decided to attend the STEM in the Park event at the UNT campus on March 31st. Even just talking to material science engineers will really help me get a grasp on the materials and alloys that would be essential to complete this product.

This mentor visit really helped me understand HOW I am going to attack the problem I addressed in my proposal to reach the results I want. Moreover, it inspired me and got me reinvigorated my passion for engineering and my excitement about my final product and all the intricacies of it. The meeting also helped me put together a more accurate and realistic calendar for my final product. Hopefully the calendar will hold me accountable and ensure that I meet or exceed all of my expectations for myself in order to create a product that I am tremendously proud of.

I am very excited to finally start the mentorship portion of the ISM experience. Mr. Ekpete has been extremely helpful and supportive so far, so the future holds many many many possibilities and I cannot wait to finish out the year strong.

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