Ideas

 Idea Explanation Do this if you like … Don’t do this if …
Do the Right Thing Use your knowledge and power to do something good for humanity Meaning in your work.  Thinking out of the box to solve a problem. If you like Mechanics and some electronics. People (just kidding).  bigger, bulkier projects that will require more tinkering to get working.
Green Energy Create pollution free energy using solar (both direct and indirect), wind, wave energy, human waste energy… If the energy revolution interests you and you want to be a part of it. Green Energy combines science and engineering into a project. You hate circuits. Some of them require more circuit work than others, but they all create electricity and you need to store it, convert it, etc.
Super Fly My Toy Make a 21st century toy. Army men that talk and react to movement, a nerf gun that senses motion and fires, a barbie doll with attitude and laser sensing eyes… Toys. Tinkering. Creating. Some flexibility here, but 3D printer and microcontroller would be useful (both are pretty easy to use, I’ll help). You do not like tinkering or toys.
Things That Annoy Me This is an ever-expanding list of things that annoy me. Please pitch in and make society a better place. Be creative and think out of the box. There are an assortment of projects that afford you the chance to learn a variety of skills in either mechanical, electrical, microcontroller sensors… You are happy with the way things are. And if this is you… you annoy me.
Physics Demos You will be famous forever at Menlo. You can build a Gauss gun, an earthquake table, a wind tunnel, a jacob’s ladder, a Tesla coil… Science and making something work. These projects combine science and building. You will see physics come to life and you’ll thrill an audience with your project. Must have a bit of tenacity and ability to do educated tinkering. You do not like physics and/or building things.
Science Research You can study the world of quantum physics, astrophysics… You can test the claims of companies. For example, does sunscreen really protect you from skin cancer??? You can prove it one way or the other! Using state of the art equipment. Doing real science research and studying the amazing way that things works on Earth and in the universe in general. You can do purely experimental, a combination of experiment and theory, or purely theory. Where appropriate, you will collaborate with professors at local universities. Don’t like science and/or hated the radiation and weather balloon projects.
Engineering Projects Design and build something cool, something useful, something that will help others, something unique, something for yourself. Building things like the Stirling engine or the electric motor project. You will need passion and a ‘stick to it-ness’. You should be good at and enjoy SolidWorks. Willing to go to a machine shop to have your parts custom machined. Any kind of frustration. If you don’t like thinking out of the box. If you don’t like tinkering to get it working at the end.
Wacky Ideas Any idea is a good idea! As long as you understand what you’re doing in detail, can build it, debug it. Always start with a quick prototype, before going for the whole thing. Being WACKY. Having fun, being creative and putting in a lot of time and work to bring your idea to fruition. You must like learning new stuff (whether it’s building something, doing some electronics …) Prefer more defined instruction/goals. If you do not like thinking out of the box and trying things for a solution.
Robots Robots are in our future.  Real ones that do the things we don’t want to or can not do as well.  Get a start on the future by building a robot to do a task that makes life easier, more efficient and/or the world a better place A combination of mechanical and electrical engineering.  You will need to design, build, tinker, do the electronics and most likely program a microcontroller or computer as well. Don’t like robots.  Don’t like to tinker and redesign to get it right.
Inventors Challenge Invent something useful to society. The prize money is as high as one million dollars on some of these. You don’t have to win to ace this course, but why not try?! You’ll learn a lot and invent something real cool no matter what happens in the end. If you like a challenge and thinking out of the box. You like to shoot for the stars and are OK if you land on the moon. Some of the challenges are: how to auto identify moon craters from astro pictures, how auto stop a speeding vehicle, how to put together a shredded document. … Don’t like the possibility of failure. Click on the Inventors Challenge link to see all the competitions, they’re a lot more than listed here as well.
Sports Yay Sports! Playing sports. Watching sports. Don’t like sports.