I remember when I first heard about the Harvard University Machine Shop. Jessica, a colleague at my lab at the time, mentioned she’d just finished her bench vice project there while we were riding on the "38" bus at the end of a workday. “On the 38" name of my upcoming J-Lo cover album btw.
“They train you there. You basically go, pick a set of drawings for a project, and you spend about 40 hours making it on your own. I chose the bench vice.”
Jessica merely mentioned this in passing, unaware of the level of unbound enthusiasm such insider info would elicit from a self-proclaimed Lego Slut like myself.
“Wait, what?” I asked, holding back tears of pure elation, hands in prayer against face, left thumb grazing winced temple. Did you say a "machine shop"––with lathes, and mills, and grinders (no not "Grindrs")––is waiting out there for me, available at my disposal?
Which other of my dreams could Jessica realize? Was she... a genie? Do I get two more of these? What about unlimited Nutella until the end of time as well? Ice cream wherever I go.
Jessica flew away on her purple unicorn and I was off to the Machine Shop's training course. What ensued was a summer under the sadomasochistic tutelage of Stan, the head of the shop, as I fully imbibed in the lathing, milling, and polishing of once-blocks of raw material into this here steam engine.
Tiny as it may be, so were its machining tolerances. The project took about 40 hours, during which I ate fabrication and engineering learning curves for breakfast. Shout out to my late grandfather [points to sky], who was a professional machinist for over a half century. Dude knew fraction-to-decimal conversions like I know the cereal aisle. Really well, I mean.
Stan gave me this hecka cool certificate of achievement when I wrapped. Looks legit, but I’m skeptical of how substantive Harvard deeds and documents are, considering I'm a half dozen unpaid campus parking tickets in with zero repercussion lol. Stay woke, fam!
Though it works swimmingly (see baller video), I have yet to properly “run” anything off the engine. Might use it as a backup generator for my Sybian this winter, keep you posted.