Nancy Ouyang graduated from MIT in 2013 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
For a PDF portfolio with more works from 2011-2013, see this portfolioa.
See also this resume or this CV.
For my company (NarwhalEdu)'s second Kickstarter, we decided to create a multi-robot system that could be choreographed to sound and light. I designed the circuit and PCB, programmed the Atmega328p, and wrote the python middleware to connect the bluetooth low energy chip to Linux. The robots are tracked via overhead USB webcam and are colored with a RGB LED diffused by the plastic cover. Various 3D printed shapes are available (designed by June Kim), and students are encourage to personalize their robots. For this project, my cofounder and I supervised two MIT undergraduate interns and three high school students, and also won an Boston Awesome Foundation grant.
Point-and-click GUI written in Python by Will Kalb.
Smartphone app using BTLE to communicate motor and LED commands, written by Chris Connors.
Demonstrating feedback-controlled positioning to command a robot to draw a rectangle.
Demonstrating multi-robot control -- two robots to draw a triangle.
I won a de Florez Fund for Humor grant to organize Hexacon, the world’s first hexapod conference, with over thirty attendees, including Prof. Sangbae Kim from MIT and Prof. Aaron Hoover from Olin as speakers. For the conference, I lasercut hexapod earrings and also made paper hexapod kits using the designs from the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab at Berkeley.
For my graduation cap, I used RGB LED strips to spell out "MIT" and then used a simple fade effect to display all the colors. The breadboard was potted in hot glue and a lipo velcro'd to the underside as well.
After graduating, I recruited my friend Cappie Pomeroy, and together we founded an educational company, NarwhalEdu, to highlight the creative side of engineering. Our class, “Introduction to Engineering,” was accompanied by a drawing robot arm of our own design, and raised over twenty thousand dollars on Kickstarter while reaching over ninety students around the world.
We taught it on EdX with the permission of MIT's Director of Digital Learning, Prof. Sanjay Sarma. We shipped ninety robotics kits on time and on-budget. Hanna Lin helped with the mechanical design and more over Summer 2013.
We were accepted into the 2013 MIT Global Founders' Skills Accelerator. By focusing on hands-on online learning, we sought to address flaws we saw in our own education, such as the tendency to rely on funding, teacher resources, and large teams not available in rural settings, as well as the focus on competitions that skewed heavily male.
I (together with Julia Hopkins and Cynthia Lu) won a de Florez Humor Fund Grant to run workshops and create performance art using wirelessly controllable electroluminecent wire clothing. We used Bluetooth and Teensyduino to create the boards.
Lasercut Origami Heels
This was an attempt, with Ankur Mehta, to make origami acrylic high heels on the lasercutter. For the first prototype, the brittle acrylic cracked during folding before the prototype could be completed and worn. Next steps include investigating the use of susceptor sheets combined with microwaving, or techniques such as using a defocused laser beam.
For my presentation at the Open Hardware Summit, I decided to sew my own dress from scratch. I bought black stretchy fabric with sparkles for the top and white 100% cotton fabric for the bottom. I used the strap pattern from the infinity dress and then based the bottom pattern on an existing dress I had. I then used spray fabric dye to dye the front and back of the bottom rainbow stripes. I attempted to use bleach to write words after dying, but all colors except pink for this dye were resistant to bleach. Elmer’s glue before dying resisted well though (on the back, not pictured).
This was an attempt, with Ankur Mehta, to make laseretched nail stamping plates. Normally, you buy a plate pre-etched with patterns. You apply nail polish, scrape to a thin layer, and then use a stamp to transfer the polish from the design to your nail.
The etch depth may not have been deep enough as the designs did not readily transfer.
I cosplayed for the first time with friends at Anime Boston. We created costumes for characters from RWBY. I picked Lie Ren. This was my first major sewing project and took a week. I built the weapons in a day using two toy water pistols, lots of epoxy, and layered lasercut wood.
Spray-painting curing on the weapons
Front view (on a mannequin)
Back view – the gold spraypaint was masked with lasercut cardboard
I also went backpacking (a five-day trip) for the first time. 2014 was also my first time winter hiking and sea kayaking.
Hiking the Applachian Trail, Grayland State Park
Hiking the Applachian Trail, Grayland State Park. Ponies and pony babies
Winter hiking and ice skating
I bought a sailboat from Craigslist for $100, fixed it, and sailed it north through the Cape Cod canal to Boston. I had essentially no sailing experience prior to this trip and relied on much help from the MIT Bluewater list in particular from Adam Traina, Ilia Lebedev, and Cappie Pomeroy. Over 2014 and 2015, we have: glassed in through-hulls, fared smooth blisters, installed new seacocks, installed a depth transducer, applied bottom paint, taken apart and serviced two outboards, installed a new rudder, installed the traveller, gunwals, cabin-top handholds, misc. standing rigging, and more. We had much help from friends!
Faring the blisters on the boat
Boat launch after a winter on stands
I lived on the boat for a few months. Not recommended given its state
Boat on a trailer from Worcester to Fairhaven
Mooring in extremely heavy fog – very eerie (there are no filters on this photo)
Arrived in Boston, looking back at fog bank
Boston Harbor at night
DIY Menstrual Cups
For the Hack4Fem 2015 hackathon workshop, working with John Aleman, I created a two-part menstrual cup mold (printed on a Stratasys) and used two-part body-safe silicone to create DIY menstrual cups. Hackathon participants were enthusiastic and ideas for future work include glittery menstrual cups.
For the CC0 (public domain) Solidworks part files, see Github.
Solidworks mold model
Solidworks cup model
Holding the workshop
Various failed cups and mold parts
Over the summer of 2011, I welded and wired together a rideable hexapod based on designs by Rick Pantaleo. It's built with a steel tubing frame (MIG welded), controlled by two drill trigger controllers, a found racing car seat, and powered by donated A123 lead acid replacement batteries with reused tennis balls for feet. I took it to two New York Maker Faires and let kids ride in it.
A video of a friend riding it
Conference, Gender, Logo, Mechanical
Hack4Fem was a hackathon to help get more engineering students interested in applying their problem-solving skills towards feminist causes. I started the project. I also organized speakers from MIT and the Boston Doula Project, reserved the venue, and co-developed the website.
On Nov 14, 2015 we had over forty attendees including students from MIT, Wellesley, Columbia Univ, and other nearby professionals. Workshops included DIY menstrual cups and cloth pads.
Projects included anti-harrassment twitter bots, Twine interactive fiction exploring relationship concepts such as consent, and reviews of films in terms of whether they empower women.
Hack4Fem Logo (designed by Nancy Ouyang, released into public domain)
Project screenshot: Let’s Talk About It
Project screenshot: Woovie (film reviews)
CNC Boat Rudder
I taught myself how to work with composites and built a replacement rudder for 26 foot sailboat. I created a two-part CNC foam mold and used fiberglass, epoxy, and two-part expanding foam. With help applying the fiberglass from Ilia Lebedev and other friends. Lead shot was used to balance the rudder (as the foam was less than neutrally buoyant in water) and fiberglass blocks tacked to the outer shell were used to pre-stress the internal bronze skeleton (salvaged from the old rudder).
Outside three layers of glass applied. Pre-stressed bronze skeleton, ballast added
Mold leaned vertically on a wall. Holes were drilled into fiberglass at regular intervals and two-part foam mix poured in, where it expanded about sixty seconds after mixing (with a drill).
Rudder re-attached to boat
With my cofounder, we took on contract work from the MIT Office of Digital Learning to create the next generation of robots for MIT’s introductoy EECS class. Under Prof. Isaac Chuang, over the course of a semester, we developed sub-$200 CD-sized robots functionally equivalent to the robots currently used. In the future, given further work to reduce the cost and increase the robustness and manufacturability, these robots could serve as the hands-on complement to an online version of the class and could also be inexpensive enough to allow on-campus students to take the robots home with them.
All our work was released into the public domain (CC0) and may be found on Github.
Demo: Maintaining distance from a light
Demo: Bayesian probability position estimator (the robot parks in the second empty “slot” between three parking obstacles).
Solidworks model, rendered
Clear acrylic to see internals
18 Servo Hexapod
Inspired by videos of dancing hexapod competitions, I built an 18-servo hexapod and programmed it by myself. It was made of ABS plastic, 18 servos, an Arduino nano, and a Pololu serial controller. With Prof. Dan Frey's permission, I substited this independent project for the normal coursework for Design and Manufacturing I.
A video of it walking (recommend muting due to background noise)