Design and Construction of a Ferrofluid Kinetic Art Clock; Socioeconomic Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles

Fitzpatrick, Christopher, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Garner, Gavin, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The foundation of the capstone project was broad, yet well defined by technical advisor Gavin Garner—projects must be novel and market UVA Engineering well. My eight-person group elected to design a clock as a piece of kinetic art. Initial blueprints included ball bearings that would cascade down the surface of a blank vertical wall until magnets, hiding behind the wall, would activate and attract the bearings into numeric positions that together displayed the time. After seven iterations of prototyping and a major rerouting when ball bearings proved unfeasible, the product matured into a ferrofluid tank, in which magnetic particles in a liquid flow into numeric patterns due to activations of hiding magnets. Through the progression of the project, I became proficient in SolidWorks CAD software, Spin coding language, use of a PLS6.75 Laser Cutter, and 3D printing with a Dimension uPrint 3D Printer.
An interest in emerging technologies, responsibility for large-scale social concerns, and undying love for Boston converged on the following STS research question: how will the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles impact socioeconomic inequality in the City of Boston? The disruptive nature of autonomous vehicles (AVs) made the Paradigm Shift STS framework an obvious choice in my analysis, and the interactions of AVs with society indicate an effective use of Technological Momentum. I then paired both frameworks with documentary research and historical case studies of ride-share companies’ takeover in Philadelphia and a Boston commuter rail’s expansion in order to shed light on patterns between public, private, and community agents. I finally drew insight from the results of this investigation to consider equity and AVs as both private and public goods. Such research converged on a central point: socioeconomic equality cannot improve without involvement of affected populations, regardless of race, gender, or income, in all aspects of solving future conflicts with AVs.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Paradigm Shift, Technological Momentum, Autonomous Vehicles, Ferrofluid Clock, Mechatronic System

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Gavin Garner
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Conner Caruso, Zachary Rosen, Alexander Rudin, Trevor Stutzman, Harrison Sublett, Eric Tang, David Xiao

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