Team ‘Revolving Gear’ after the final day of assembly.
Ian McEwan (left), Bryant Nguyen (mid), and myself all happy
the 120 hour project was over.

As my senior year of highschool concluded, my Design Technology (DTech) Academy Capstone course required that all seniors make something to benefit or impact future cohorts. As the first cohort, I and the team decided to give some form of engineering motivation to future cohorts through a massive inspirational project to showcase what was possible with the many skills that students gain throughout the program. What we three eventually agreed on was to design and craft a wall-mounted wooden sculpture that incorporated moving gears, volume-dependent speed, and the logos of the 5 teams within the DTech cohort. The project was meant to be moving when students were doing work in the DTech lab, and varies the speed of the gear movement based on how much work was being done in the lab. We thought that was a fun feature!

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The beginning of any proper engineering project requires a solid design so that all team members can refer to and utilize the benefits of CAD. I headed the CAD design of the main assembly, utilizing OnShape for the primary CAD. OnShape was the primary CAD that DTech taught, and this gave me a great background for learning Solidworks and Siemens NX at San Diego State.


A project made out of 30+ wooden gears, all thin enough for average stock, made perfect use of the satisfying and beautiful invention of the CNC Mill. DTech had two CNC Mills in their inventory that we ended up borrowing for the project; we couldn’t manage to cut all of these gears at school due to the 50+ hours of machine time. Having the most experienced in the Inventables CNC machine hardware and software, I exported the various gear designs from OnShape and imported their shapes into the Inventables CAM software (seen on the left). Highlighting my contributions, I designed and provided setup for all CAM software, monitored GCode and gear cuts, recalibrated home zeros for different cut designs, and finally provided eye and ear protection to team members whenever a cut was carried out. This project furthered my proficiency in CNC milling and allowed me to expand my knowledge on GCode, CAM, and CAD design with the intention of CAM, among other concepts.


Arguably the most fun part of any project for an engineer is putting the project together once all the pieces and parts are ready. This project incorporated many assemblies and sub-assemblies that made for hours of separate work. Metal assembly, PCB assembly, code/logic, and wood parts all received assembly from Bryant, Ian, and me. As seen on the right, LocTight is being applied to an axle-bolt that fastens the gear away from the black backboard. I still remember the thrill of fastening a set of bearings into the holes that we CNCed without any need for glue. The design was perfect and the CAM provided the proper tolerance to assembly all of the parts as designed.