Tour of Queen’s University Machine Shop and Meeting With Design Teams


It was a cold walk to McLaughlin Hall today after school.

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We went on a tour of the machine shop to see what large scale manufacturing looks like.

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The 3D printer that Queen’s uses is WAY faster than ours. It is neat to see how it is used in the prototyping stages of design.

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Here’s a gear box designed by 3rd year mechanical engineering students. They have a competition in their class to see which design is best, but they tell the winner by watching the final product perform a task.
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Our next stop was to see the big milling machines and lathes and the water jet cutter.

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These machines are controlled by a computer. A CAD file is converted into a computer code for the machine to create the part.

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Next we saw the water jet. We watched the CAD file get turned into a 2D drawing, and then code for the water jet. To avoid errors, there is a simulation mode that shows what will be cut in what order. After watching the simulation, we saw the water jet cut a part out of plastic. A nozzle directs the high pressure flow of water and an abrasive (sand) and the impact of the water is what cuts through the material. The machine at Queen’s has cut rough 6 inches of aluminum!

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In the past we’ve had some robot parts water jetted at Queen’s. The machining is very precise, and the finish is smooth.

Here’s the final project that 2nd year engineers create. They learn how to use a new tool each week, and make parts for their widget. The widgets serve no purpose really, but it’s a good test of machining skill to see if they fit together at the end.

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Next we saw where welding happens. In past years our robot chassis was welded here.

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After this, we went to meet some of the design teams.

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We saw the Baja team. They build an all-terrain vehicle which they drive in competitions. This is a car from an earlier year.

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They manufacture and assemble all the parts here at Queen’s. It looks like a lot of work, and a lot of fun!

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Next we saw the Formula Car that the Queen’s design team has made.

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The car is lightweight and strong, made with lots of carbon fibre. It is designed to go fast and corner well.

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Our tour continued at Biosci, where we snuck into a lecture theatre to see where some of the learning happens at university. Those rooms are big!

We headed next to the Integrated learning centre to meet another design team.

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This space engineering team makes robots to “mine lunar soil” in a simulated lunar environment. It’s neat to see the many different applications of robotics!

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They also had cool space glasses.

The next part of our tour brought us to the chemical engineering lab area to see where some of their experiments are run.

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Towards the end of the tour we ran into one of our friends, Adan, studying for his exams.

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All in all it was a fantastic tour. Many thanks to Queen’s outreach for setting it up!

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