This project served as my thesis for my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. I was advised on this project by Professor Graham Jones of MIT's Anthropology Department and Seth Riskin of MIT Museum Studio.
This project centered around the design and modeling of a mechanical split-flap display device with anthropological applications in connections to the I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination technique, bringing together two different methods of information transfer into one device.
The guest would approach the tabletop device with a particular question, dilemma, or subject which they would like advice or guidance on (just as with traditional I Ching divination). The guest would focus on their thoughts, close their eyes, and rotate through the 64 flaps of the machine until they feel compelled to stop. The machine would then display a particular hexagram symbol, which the guest can then turn to the I Ching book to decipher.
I have always been interested in more unique and creative applications of mechanical engineering so I was excited to propose this project as an experiment in incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives of engineering, design, art, and anthropology to engineer an aesthetically rich, mechanically interesting, and immersive human experience. In this project, I was able to work on blending the boundaries between technology and the humanities, the objective and the subjective, the physical and the perception, tradition and innovation, etc.
This work followed a mechanical engineering design process including research, brainstorming technological solutions, prototyping, and creating a full Fusion 360 computer-aided 3D model designed for ease of future manufacturing and production with laser cutting clear acrylic. This 3D model included measurements accurate to available materials and constraints of laser cutters, variables for easy adjustment of measurements, constraints that showed accurate physical motion of the machine/rotation of the flaps, and clear acrylic materials.