It wasn’t the great flood and Noah’s Ark really wasn’t an ark but the results were biblical, at least in Noah’s mind.
“I thought it was interesting that someone from a community college was able to beat out people from MIT,” said Noah Rasor of Lorain County Community College’s Fab Lab. Rasor is referring to Fab Lab Six, an International Convention of Fab Labs. There are just over 50 Fab Labs in the entire world, including one on the Lorain County Community College campus.
The 2010 Fab Lab Convention was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The grand finale of the convention was a boat competition. Inventors had to build a boat large enough to hold a person. “It (the boat) had to float for 50 seconds and hold 50 kilograms,” said Rasor, “from there you were judged on creativity, originality and function.”
Rasor learned of the convention and competition from an MIT professor during a Fab Lab class he took on the LCCC campus. The class was on a Wednesday. He learned if he wanted to enter the competition he would have design, build and package the boat for shipment by Friday at noon. His window of opportunity was tiny but Rasor had big ideas. “I had been interested in paddle boats for awhile. I had never seen a paddle boat with linkage that drives the paddles,” said Rasor. “I had been drawing some sketches and building models with Llegos to test my linkage that I used for the propulsion of the boat. It is similar to a locomotive. If you look at the crank attached to the wheels, how it moves up and down as it goes. That is similar to how the paddles move in my boat.”
At issue though was the deadline. Rasor had never built a working prototype. He had not even started on the design work, taken any measurements, nothing. “I pulled two all-nighters,” said Rasor in reference to how he designed and machined the boat. Next issue, he didn’t have time to actually assemble it and test it. He wrapped the pieces to his design in plastic and shipped it off to Amsterdam. “We tested it in the canal in Amsterdam,” he said. “When I designed the boat,” continued Rasor, “I figured my only chance to win was not to make the biggest or best boat but to make the most interesting boat knowing the Fab Lab community is about invention and how things work.”
Not only did the boat actually go together when he built it for the first time in Amsterdam. It floated too, with Noah in it. It won too! Rasor’s design captured the eyes of the judges and Noah’s Ark was voted first place in design and creativity. The victory wasn’t the win for Rasor though. “What I got out of it was a lot of friends,” said Rasor. “I helped build paddles for one team, a seat for another and helped another competitor assemble his boat.”
Rasor is back in Lorain County now. He is back in the Fab Lab at Lorain County Community College. He has earned associate degrees in mechanical design and computer aided machining from LCCC. He hopes to earn a bachelors and then master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Where? Noah has plans on seeing if he can get in at MIT.