Olin encourages students to pursue their personal artistic, humanistic, philanthropic and technical interests through the college’s Passionate Pursuits program. Students choose a semester-long project, set their own goals and develop their interests with guidance of a faculty member and, in many cases, funding from the college. When they complete their project, they receive non-degree credit for their efforts.
Olin College Penny Press
Student Robert McMullen ‘13 has a passion for machine design. As part of a Mechanical Design class, he designed and built a penny press—and he didn’t stop there. Excited by his work, he continued during the next semester by embarking on a Passionate Pursuit project to build additional safety features into the machine.
Student Silas Hughes ’14 explored his love of micro-aeronautic vehicles by building, modifying and designing radio controlled airplanes. His goals were impressive: to develop an understanding of aeronautics and to design an original plane, record its flight and present an analysis of its flight.
Student Robert McMullen ’13 decided to combine his interests in machine design and pyrotechnics to build a fuse-making machine called Visco Fuse. McMullen’s machine produces a safety fuse as quickly as it’s made commercially, while ensuring the highest quality. This kind of fuse is used almost exclusively in fireworks, but the machines that make it are still primitive. His machine attempted to modernize the design and make it more compact, robust and better looking, while ensuring it didn’t spark—greatly improving its safety.