The intro engineering design class at Caltech is generally taken sophomore year and has the potential to be quite frustrating because it’s the first time we really have to machine all our own parts, and do it precisely. I present to you Exhibit A from the summary of our transmission project, which basically involves fabricating a gearbox. I promise that these are all word-for-word quotes from the document we turned in to our professors [plus additional commentary/translation in brackets].

“There were a number of things that went worse than anticipated. Starting with the gears, we expected to have no problem… but… [long-winded explanation of why gears are hard].”

“Once we got down to the shop, things went worse than anticipated again… [CAD models are also hard].”

“The reamer also did not move as anticipated, because we didn’t turn it on… [I am a total idiot].”

“The clamp for microdrilling was not attached to the microdrill, so it was common for our shaft to accidentally move while drilling [seems like a pretty big oversight in retrospect].”

“When we were drilling, we accidentally melted one of our large gears with the drill chuck [whoops, poor drill management. Also there is a strong possibility that it was midnight at the time. Good thing we had a spare?]”

“Ultimately, our lower score can be attributed to a lower efficiency than expected. Precision is key, and we must not have been as careful as we thought we were [clearly there are some other issues as well].”