Hopper Demo Day

A sudden noise bursts out from the wooden workshop on the second floor of the academic building at 1 a.m. Lights are flickering throughout the night. The electric saw is roaring; the grinding wheel is screaming; the drilling machine is dancing… What’s going on?

It’s Hopper Demo Day! Olin first years are getting so excited (or frustrated?) in the middle of October. This is the time for us first years to demonstrate our very first project in the Design Nature course. Within this first project we are learning about the engineering design processes, bioinspired design, and ourselves as a designer.

What is a hopper?

Hopping animals form the basis for our first project! We focus on insects like the click beetle and frog hopper, but we might be inspired by another jumping animal.

Using a range of limited materials, we design a hopper that fulfills our own design goals.

In the first stage of design process, we studied the mechanisms of different hopping insects by reading essays and drawing sketches. Following that, we were given a Lego mini-figure, which we did consumer research on and built up our design goal.

We refined our design goal throughout the process of sketching and prototyping. We are guided through the design and development of our hopper through in-class activities and assignments. We learn different ways of carrying out research, how to choose a design goal, an engineering design process, and a host of new skills including sketching, ideation, computer-aided design (CAD), and fabrication.

Sketches of click beetle

The sketch of a click beetle jumping mechanism.

Students working in studio

Students working in studio.

Sketch model and iterations of a hopper

The sketch model and iterations of a hopper.

Hopper Demo Day!

All first years are prepared for the BIG DAY! This is the time for us to demonstrate our inspirations and 8-week’s effort.  A slow motion camera is set up to capture the moment of hopping; we even have a class DJ to choose a special song for everyone’s demo!

Every hopper jumps differently: some aim at jumping horizontally, while others seek for a higher vertical jump. Besides, we are also looking for versatile hoppers: one makes a hopper that can jump onto tree branches, and another builds up a structure that helps the hopper to land back on its legs. Every hopper received warm feedback and a round applause.

Hopper Demo Day

Hopper Demo Day


View more photos from this year's Hopper Demo Day

Want to read about other students' past experiences of Hopper Night and Hopper Demo Day? Check out more from the Olinsider below!

Hopper Night - Luis '21 (Fall 2017)

My Hopper...hops? - Ana '20 (Fall 2016)

Posted in: Sophie '22, Class of 2022