Engineering students build high-tech mini golf course
It was pure and putter madness in Levering Hall on Saturday.
First-year mechanical engineering students, in the culminating project of their spring semester, constructed a 17-hole, high-tech miniature golf course designed to dazzle and delight visitors of JHU’s annual Spring Fair.
“You have to hit the ball harder than you think,” student Joe Somerville advised one player, who wasn’t having much luck on the hole Somerville built with teammates Matthew Jacobs, Maya Sitaram, and Hubert Leo.
After a few attempts, the player launched the ball up a short ramp and into a PVC pipe track that carried the ball to the hole. When the ball dropped in, the hole lit up with flashing red and blue lights, signaling the player’s success.
“Our first design for this was far too intricate, so we had to change design plans about halfway through the project,” said Somerville. “What that taught me is that you need a straightforward, but powerful, idea from the get-go.”
The project was the final assignment of the MechE Freshman Lab II course, which teaches first-year students how to design with basic electronics, microcontrollers, sensors, and motors. Working in small teams, this year’s cohort were challenged to design and fabricate miniature golf holes with mechanical obstacles. They were given only a few design specifications: the hole must have moving parts, sensors, lights, and—most importantly—must be fun for players of all ages.
“This was by far the biggest and most public design project I’ve assigned” said Steven Marra, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the course instructor. “The students really had to consider their designs from the users’ perspective. Considering some of the project constraints, I’m amazed at how well they pulled it off.”