Students involved in MagiChess

Creating Engineering Magic

For their senior project, a team of engineering students designed and built an automated chess board that allows for play by opponents in different locations.

"This project is a senior design project," explained Shira Epstein, the team's faculty advisor, lecturer, and director of campus makerspaces. It emerged from "a capstone design course [that] provides students with a chance to work on a team and build a project from start to finish—from ideation to prototype at our demo days in April."

"The chess board, it was definitely one of the more ambitious projects," said computer engineering major Jack Deguglielmo '21. But the team kept coming back to the idea and Epstein, seeing the team's confidence, encouraged them to pursue it.

The students found a sense of community through their experience in the course and working on their project in M5, the makerspace of UMass Amherst's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Opened in 2008, M5 offers over 5,000 square feet of laboratories, meeting rooms, and a demilounge to support individual and collaborative activities, formal and informal instruction, and mentoring for undergraduate and graduate ECE students.

"It really is like a community. Especially M5—it's a community of engineers, of technical expertise, of resources. But it's also a place to make friends," said Deguglielmo.

"There's always something going on—whether it's research that someone's doing or a project someone's doing in M5, there's always something interesting to get you inspired," added electrical engineering major Samantha Klein '21.