My family’s first computer was a Dell that ran Windows 95. This computer was given to us by my uncle, who is a computer programmer. The computer was several years old by that point, and he was already using a newer model. My uncle lived several hundred miles away at the time, so the computer was shipped to us. I was five years old at the time, and I couldn’t wait to get the box opened. Until that point, my only experience with computers had been at the public library. At the library there were several computers in the children’s section, and I had seen other kids playing games like Reader Rabbit on them. However, my mom had always forbade me from playing on the computers. It was her belief that the library was for reading books, not playing games.
Once my dad got the computer set up and showed me how it worked, I began trying out the many programs that had been installed on it. Luckily for me, my uncle had a daughter a few years older than me, so there were already several games installed on the computer. My favorite game quickly became Elf Bowling, a relatively simple game in which the player was Santa Claus and the bowling pins were elves. Even though it was a simple game, my mom only let me play on the computer for a few minutes each day, so it never got old. After having the computer for a couple years, I discovered a game called SimCity 2000 which quickly replaced Elf Bowling as my favorite game. It was a city building simulation game, the point of which was to improve a city by building roads and zoning land. However, I mostly just tried to destroy cities by doing things like setting them on fire, which was a lot of fun.
Computers have been influencing me ever since my days of playing games on Windows 95. When I was a freshman in high school, I joined my schools robotics team. I was on the mechanical team, and I enjoyed designing and building parts of the robot. I especially enjoyed working on the drive train of the robot. The first year I was on the team, we did all of our design on paper and made all of the parts manually. While this worked fine for most of the robot, there were certain parts that required a higher degree of accuracy to function well. One of these was the drive train of the robot. It was extremely difficult and frustrating trying to get the chain, sprockets, and wheels to all line up because some of the holes we had drilled were not in the exact position that they should have been.
My second year on the team, we started designing some of the robot on the computer program SolidWorks, a 3D CAD program. We were then able to send our designs to a CNC machine, which is basically a computerized milling machine. This allowed us to create very precise pieces which made working on the drive train much more enjoyable. Our robot also performed much better in the competition than it had the previous year. This experience of designing parts on CAD and having them machined very precisely by a CNC Machine is one of the main reasons I chose to study Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State. SolidWorks is the CAD program used at Oregon State, and I am looking forward to using it and other CAD programs at OSU and after I graduate.
Elf Bowling: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elfbowling.png
SimCity 2000: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sc2kscr.png