The invention ensemble’s first major victory  

As referenced in my other blog posts I have a semi-formal lineup of inventions, including:

As well as a couple of other wearables:


To understand this success, you must first understand the story behind it. To start this story at the beginning, in middle of the spring semester, I get an email from my prior ENGE 1114 (engineering design) professor. He was looking for people to volunteer to show off some of the cool things that were made on a uPrint 3D printer at the rededication ceremony of the Frith Lab, an on-campus design lab. Being a member of Galileo (an engineering living learning community focusing around personal development), I had access to a uPrint in my dorm, and I had printed quite a few things, including the cell phone case and glasses mentioned above. Figuring that I did not have much to do that week, I signed up.

Thinking that I would be advertising a random, run down lab in the basement of Randolph Hall to a group of incoming freshmen, I put on my light up duct tape tie and brought my printed wrist-mounted cell phone case and glasses. When I arrived at the lab I was shocked. What I thought for sure was a small, mediocre, and bland room was actually an extremely spacious, modern, and well-built lab, outfitted with an array of 3D printers and a laser cutter, two devices that I had become extremely adept at using in Galileo, as well as a CNC router. However, my biggest surprise was yet to come.

When I got to talking with my professor, who had not mentioned these other devices to me, I realized that I had a business card in my wallet that I could show off as well. I was intrigued as some of the attendees to this event, including several professors and the College of Engineering department head, and I wondered exactly who was coming to visit. Although I was expecting (and dressed) to speak with undergraduates or incoming freshmen about how 3D printing works, I was totally caught off guard when I learned that the attendees were none other than the Dean of Engineering’s Board of Corporate Sponsors. Despite looking completely informal, they thought many of my designs were interesting, and one even asked for the IPT file for the glasses. All in all, it was a huge success.

After the Board had left, and a couple comments about how surprising it was that I, “was not offered a job on the spot,” I approached my professor with the intent of asking about the DREAMS lab (a school program focused around designing additive manufacturing devices), that I was and am looking at joining. Before I could asking him about it though, he addressed me and some of the other students that had attended the event and mentioned that he was looking for undergraduate teaching assistants to help run the lab in the fall. I sent in my résumé without hesitation. One of the Graduate TAs in Galileo’s design lab even offered to be a reference after he saw me helping a few students learn how to use Rhino CAD software.

The bottom line is that I ended up scoring my first job, and it would not have been possible without my various inventions, as well as my training, Galileo, and that decision to take one professor over another.

Starting July 7th, I will be giving tours of the Frith Lab to incoming freshman during orientation, and for fall semester I will be working with those same students in order to help them become better engineers, and helping them design the things that will ultimately shape their lives here at Virginia Tech.

The Light-Up Duct Tape Tie



^ The tie when off.


^ the tie when on

Skills used:


Duct Tape, basic Electrical Engineering



It is a rather well known fact that a tie is a critical part of a man’s formal attire. It is also a surprisingly well-known fact that I am the Virginia Tech Duct Tape Guy. I decided to combine my love of duct tape with my love of creative, yet questionably professional formal attire.

This is actually a part of my duct tape prom suit, but has since been refurbished to be more colorful and feature the VT logo.

As with any major design, the best way to test it is a real event. The first time I wore this formally was to a luncheon with the (then current) president of Virginia Tech, Charles Steger, over the summer. After posing for a few pictures and dealing with a couple of surprised looks, I felt confident that it was a successful design.

Then came the real test. Early fall semester, I attended a job fair put on by the Student Engineer’s Council. However, I knew that since I was a mere freshman, I was attempting to get my name out more than actually land a job. What better way to stand out than with a light-up duct tape tie? I used this, along with my water bottle résumé, as an ice-breaker to speak with companies. The whole event was a massive success.

Skipping forward to the end of spring semester, the tie scored its greatest victory, when it, along with the laser-cut business cards (1.1) and 3D printed glasses and cell phone case, earned me a job at a start-up design lab on campus. You can read the full story here.



    • You can always judge a man based on his tie.
    • Literally every formal event requires a tie, and this tie says “Yes sir, I’m an engineer.”
    • The batteries on this device last extremely long (have only needed to change them once this whole year)
    • This is critical to my image as “The Duct Tape Guy.”


    • If I am expected to actually be formal, then this is useless, and even possibly degrading, to my image.
    • It requires duct tape to keep in place.


Opportunities for improvement:

It seems a little too small. The image doesn’t show the color or size very well, but it is too short. I also feel that it needs to have an arduino and an array of lights that can act as a screen.



It has taken me way to long to post this review, but I have used this thing out. From meeting the president of the university to attending a job fair to actually getting a job with it, I have seen its power. Once again, duct tape has not failed me.

An air-conditioning hat



^ the hat as view from the left side


^ the hat from the right side


^ the hat from the right, but turned on and active

Skills used:


Physics (thermodynamics), Electrical Engineering.




For those of you who do not know, winters in Blacksburg are bad, but summers in Blacksburg are brutal. There was a saying used in the Boy Scouts, that “if your head was warm, you were warm, and if your head was cold you were cold,” and so, to counteract the high heat, I decided to build a hat that would act as air-conditioning.

Since the school recently built a new building to house engineering professors’ offices, they were all moving out of Randolph Hall and McBryde Hall. One of these teachers had the brilliant idea to start a “moving out sale: free stuff to a good home” pile in the lobby. Being an engineer, and after dismantling several ancient scanners if only to steal the belts and optics, I managed to pull an old hat and a stupid little USB powered “refrigerator” for only one can of soda out of the pile, and got to work.

After turning the hat into a visor (no need for that extra material), I ran to RadioShack to get a battery pack, solar panel, and a good switch, and affixed these to the hat. I then removed a square section of the front of the hat and affixed a steel plate to the inside, and attached that to the heat sink and cooling fan I pulled from the USB refrigerator. After some vigorous soldering, I threw on some duct tape for good measure and did a test run.

We know from thermodynamics that heat from a warm object will always travel to a cold object, and that is the process used in this device. The heat from the head will travel into the metal plate and then to the heat sink, where the fan will increase air flow and help disperse it into the air. To humans, the act of losing heat to the heat sink gives the sensation of cold, which is what I was looking for.

After doing a test run, I was not horribly impressed by how well it worked, but it did indeed work. The batteries lasted an acceptable amount of time (about 4-5 hours), and the metal plate was always cool to the touch. Since I tried it on a rather warm night, I am not sure how well the solar panel works, but I anticipate that it will only work as backup to the batteries as opposed to running on its own, and I may cannibalize it for another project later on.

I met someone new during the test run, and her first words to me were, “you’re an engineer aren’t you?”




    • It does work pretty well.
    • It is such a cool style (no pun intended).
    • The indicator light acts as a headlamp if its dark enough.


    • I never liked the feeling of hats
    • This seems like the kind of thing that would just chew through batteries.
    • The batteries supply 4.5 volts, while the fan requires 5 volts. As a result, I am not getting the highest possible efficiency because no one sells 5 volt batteries.


Opportunities for improvement:


Aside from finding a way to make 5 volts, I could find some smaller heat sinks and put those in parallel around the hat so the heat dispersion is not only on a 2 inch square in the middle of the forehead.



It’s totally my style, and I will probably wear it around, but due to its need to always be on, the price of batteries will make it more of a novelty than a practical device.