The CWRU School of Engineering periodically gives away ball mazes to guest lecturers, donors, and other honorees. The lab I work in is responsible for manufacturing the mazes, and their assembly is extraordinarily tedious. To make it easier to mass-produce mazes, the head of the lab divided one of our classes into two independent groups and assigned us a design and build project: a semi-automated maze press. This was probably the first real engineering project I was significantly involved in, but despite that fact, the lab director assigned me to serve as one of two team leads for our project group. It was actually quite difficult to get the press well-tuned; if there was too much pressure in the cylinder the acrylic cover would crack, and too little would leave the drive pins partially unengaged. Looking back the project seems quite trivial, but it nonetheless encompassed the entire product life cycle: conception, design, realization, testing, operation.
As the name implies, there were several versions of this maze press made. I was only involved in the subsequent “Mk 2” and “Mk 3” versions on an as-consulted basis, and though it was never built, I was solely responsible for the “Mk 4” fully-automated revision of the press, which was abandoned at roughly 85% completion.