After completing a four-month internship at Tesla, Victoria Vastis (MechE 2T3) found herself with some unexpected free time.
“I was meant to start another work placement, but it just didn’t feel like a good fit, I wasn’t getting the growth opportunities I was looking for,” says Vastis. “I ended up quitting after a couple of weeks and started thinking about how I wanted to spend the next four months.”
Vastis considered the areas she wanted to gain more experience in, like industrial and electronics design, and came up with a project that would combine her engineering skillset with her long held passion for music: building a guitar.
“I’ve been a musician since before I was an engineer, so it felt really natural to bring these two areas of my life together. I was starting to explore more punk and metal sounds in my music and I decided I wanted a guitar to fit the new genre I was creating in – that’s when the idea of the cyber shredder was born.”
As Vastis began envisioning the cyber shredder she knew she would have to get creative with the materials since she didn’t have experience with woodworking. Drawing on her experience at Tesla, Vastis decided on sheet metal to build the body of the guitar. Her internship experience also helped influence the design of the unique guitar – the cyber shredder took inspiration from Tesla’s distinct Cybertruck.
The design process started with Vastis putting what was in her head onto paper – lots of rough sketches and gathering her inspiration in one place. Next, she created CAD models of her design before creating a 3D-printed prototype.
“Everything looks perfect in a CAD file,” says Vasits, “but I knew I wanted to prepare a prototype before investing in all the metal pieces. By assembling the prototype I was able to see which parts were having trouble fitting together and also get the opportunity to interact with my design and make adjustments so the guitar would be comfortable to use.”
Once Vastis received the metal parts, she spent every spare moment outside of her internship at Lucid Motors working on assembling the guitar and developing a sound-reactive LED system. The final product is an impressive silver, angular guitar that draws a lot of attention.
“I really got to push myself when I was programming the LED strips. I created five different sound-reactive light modes and I’m really happy with how it all turned out. I was even able to get the guitar chrome plated!”
The cyber shredder has made the rounds on campus, being played by friends, former bandmates, and even turning up in Dean Christopher Yip’s office.
“This is my favourite part of product design and being an engineer; something I created is bringing a smile to someone’s face. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of engineering, but I like to focus on the human side,” says Vastis.
For other U of T Engineering students Vastis has a key piece of advice:
“Explore ways to learn outside of the classroom – join a design team, combine the engineering skills you want to develop with other passions, use the theory you’re learning to solve your own problems – the more you can tailor your learning to your interests the more opportunities you’ll find to grow. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! Upper year students and your professors are here for you, we have the same interests and will be excited to help you figure out a challenge.”
-Published November 22, 2022 by Lynsey Mellon