This graduation cap topper was a personal project that I completed myself over the course of a few days in May 2022 before my graduation from MIT. This DREMEL DIGILAB laser-cut clear acrylic topper was a perfect celebration of my mechanical engineering degree and all of the memories that I had made over those four years. The topper features 24 laser engraved photos of my personal favorite memories from throughout my time at MIT centered around the quote "I have truly found paradise," a famous saying in MIT culture.
Top row: Me with MIT mascot Tim the Beaver at MIT's Campus Preview Weekend
2nd row (left to right): Me in the ball pit at Simmons Hall (my dorm for my first three years at MIT), me driving MIT's solar electric vehicle, me at my first internship with Level99
3rd row (left to right): Me competing in the scooter hockey championships at Simmons Hall dorm, me glassblowing with MIT Glass Lab, me and my Toy Product Design team at our final presentations, me at Quidditch team practice, me and some friends at Stonehenge when I was studying abroad in London
4th row (left to right): Me earning my MIT Pirate Certificate, me and some friends jumping into the Charles River, me and some friends having a fancy dinner in our apartment, MIT quote "I have truly found paradise," me doing my shape display table research with MIT Media Lab, me at my first fire spinning performance, my roommate and I on Halloween where we dressed up as Daphne and Velma
5th row (left to right): Another executive board member of MIT Next Haunt and I when we were dressed up as zombie actors to scare guests, my ballroom dancing partner and I, my MIT Product Design team and I, me at the Parthenon when I was studying abroad in Greece, me and my friends at MIT Ring Delivered when we celebrated getting our class rings
6th row (left to right): Me in my Design and Manufacturing II class when I arm wrestled the other team in our class for which team could use the HAAS CNC mill first in our mass manufacturing competition (and won!), me in the final competition of our Design and Manufacturing I robotics class, my friend and I dressed up for my Senior Ball, and my sorority and I dressed up for our Senior Ball
I chose 24 photos representing some of my favorite memories from throughout my time at MIT. I converted these photos to a laser cuttable SVG format using picsvg.com and aligned them in a pattern that I was happy with in Adobe Illustrator.
Proof of Concept
After measuring the size of the button on my graduation cap, I used a scrap piece of acrylic sheet to cut an appropriate sized hole and test the fit
Aligning my design on the computer before laser cutting on the acrylic
I tested engraving the first few photos and I was happy with the way that things were coming out!
I laser cut a full sized piece for the grad cap topper out of 1/8" acrylic to test my measured dimensions and the fit and feel of the acrylic on the hat. After attaching the acrylic to the cap and trying the cap on, I noted that it was a little uncomfortable due to the weight so I chose to switch to a thinner 1/16" acrylic for the final grad cap topper.
I workd to nail down my laser cutter settings for the final piece. These are the settings I settled on.
Laser cutting the final clear acrylic 1/16" piece
Finished laser cut grad cap topper! Looks amazing!
Graduation photos with my grad cap! It was more comfortable to wear for an extended period of time with the new thinner acrylic. For graduation photos, just having the topper attached by the pinch of the button and string made it easy to put on and take off of the cap depending upon the style of photo I wanted and if I also wanted photos with a plain cap. For my actual graduation day, I wanted extra security to be sure that the acrylic topper would not fall off. I added bolts and nuts in the corners for this security and a fun mechanical engineering look with the fasteners.
Final graduation cap topper on my graduation day from MIT!
My project was featured on MIT Edgerton Center makerspace's Instagram!
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