Caden Ohlwiler, 2015, Mechanical Engineering

Current research efforts in Princeton’s ecohydrology lab include studying how trees respond to drought and conducting low-cost environmental monitoring. This summer, I worked on two projects: Designing both a leaf chamber and attachments for the Princeton University Low-Cost Sensors for the Environment (PULSE) sensor project. For the leaf chamber project, I met with a plant researcher at Princeton who advised me on the design and construction of a chamber and provided me with design files for his chamber. I designed a chamber and compiled a parts list. I plan to begin construction of this chamber this fall to study the photosynthetic response of leaves under simulated drought conditions. For the PULSE project, I designed and prototyped attachments for a sensor pod currently being developed in the lab which will provide a low-cost, modular sensor platform suitable for real-time environmental and agricultural monitoring in developing countries. These attachments include connectors for a variety of sensors, an adjustable solar panel mount, and zip-tie attachments for the pod. By using the lab’s 3D printer, I was able to move quickly from a conceptual design to a physical part, and iteratively redesign parts based on real-world testing and feedback from my advisor. This internship furthered my interest in product design and rapid prototyping, a field I am seriously considering for my career.