An inspiration is what we all strive to be. Influencing the next generation to become engineers and STEM leaders is a part of what we do. So when high school student Ben Ebel approached us about an internship, we had to show him the LM way!
Meet Ben Ebel, Clayton Bradley Academy High School student with an interest in pursuing an engineering career. Ben spent this fall interning at our Knoxville microfactory with a behind-the-scenes view into additive manufacturing; perhaps he found his future career!
Let’s find out what Ben thinks about his internship and automotive technology.
How did you learn about Local Motors and land an internship?
I heard of Local Motors online from doing research about autonomous vehicles and 3D-printed vehicles.
What did your internship consist of?
I shadowed Dustin, an engineer on the machining side of the LSAM. I watched him machine down the HAT project as well as work on a display model of Olli for the micro-factory in Arizona.
What project(s) did you work on? Why did you choose this project?
I spectated the HAT project because it was what everyone was working on at the time. I got to watch firsthand how 3D-printed vehicles were actually created.
How long did it take you to complete the project? End result of project?
My internship took around 9 weeks to complete. The end result of my project was a better understanding of what a micro-factory that 3D prints cars actually does. In the end, I was able to get a better foresight into my future career paths and options that I would have if I went down the engineering route.
How did you become interested in automotive technology and 3D printing?
My middle school had a 3D printer. I saw all of the crazy designs people were making with the printer and I thought that was amazing how we could just print basic things we needed. It made me think of the infinite possibilities if this was put on a larger scale and a couple years later Local Motors printed the Strati, the world’s first co-created, 3D-printed car. This really fascinated me, especially because of how fast the technology had evolved in that amount of time and I knew I wanted to get involved with it.
How did you become interested in autonomous vehicle technology?
I think autonomous vehicles are the way of the future and that’s why it interests me. There are so many things that AI can do that humans cannot. The benefits of autonomous vehicles could also help prevent wrecks and deaths from car accidents.
Can you predict any advancements in autonomous vehicle technology?
It will be the way of the future. Once the AI becomes sophisticated enough that it could prevent as much as 50% of wrecks, then I think it will be implemented into the mainstream of vehicles. Even today with Tesla, their cars almost drive themselves, showing that this technology is not that far around the corner.
Future career interest?
After my internship, I am interested to learn more about electromechanical engineering, as well as go more in-depth into autonomous vehicles.
Fun facts you’d like to share.
I learned that 3D-printing vehicles is a lot more complicated than I had previously thought. I thought that you would print a vehicle, attach the chassis, and the vehicle would be ready to go but as it turns out, there are a lot more steps and processes that go into make a 3D-printed vehicle. You have to make sure that you can actually print it, based on mechanical restrictions and the type of polymer restrictions. Then you have to print it bigger than intended to machine it down to its actual size. After that, you machine it and have to attach it to the chassis, then finally you have to make the vehicle street legal. Long story short, I learned a lot about the processes that go into making a 3D-printed vehicle.