Nick Chen ’20, Mechanical Engineering
My project focused on generating electricity using Helmholtz resonance, which occurs when air flows over the opening of a container. This can result in powerful pressure fluctuations, and often produces an audible tone, such as when air blows across the opening of a bottle. I worked to improve the design of a prototype that combines Helmholtz resonance with piezoelectric elements — which produce an electric charge from mechanical stress such as vibration — to convert sound energy into electricity. Previous designs have only worked when compressed air is pumped directly over the opening of the resonator. I was tasked with altering this device to work in natural wind conditions. Through extensive observation and testing, and after building multiple prototypes, I successfully created an omnidirectional top insert for the resonator, allowing it to generate power in natural wind. My internship gave me the opportunity to create a successful device through research, design and analysis. This process broadened my understanding of how deeply connected creativity and technical understanding are to engineering and research.