Tariq Aldalou, winner in the post-secondary division, brought in some middle eastern enrichment with his design.
Tariq triumphed in the Design Challenge by creating a unique musical instrument inspired by his origins in Damascus, Syria. He designed a Mini-Oud, a variant of the Arabic Oud, that resembles a lute.
Aldalou’s version, crafted from PLA (polylactic acid filament) using a 3D printer, measures 60cm by 30cm (an Oud traditionally measures 67cm by 36cm). It features lasercut wood hexagon sound holes and maintains the conventional 11 strings of a traditional Oud. To preserve its authenticity, he applied a matte finish and included dust remnants from the sanding process, also creating two smaller prototypes.
Encouraging participation, Tariq advises, “Join the challenge, even if you’re starting from scratch or your tools aren’t perfect. It’s all about learning and growing. My friends and I, despite time constraints, are eager to dive in, ready to embrace mistakes as part of our progress. We encourage everyone to get involved and explore, even with the simplest of ideas.”
After completing the NOVA Makers course on Canvas, Aldalou took an in-person class led by Kai Le, an evening support specialist. He also received aid from Mihai Ziu, a dual-enrolled high school student, in mastering the Tinkercard program and Autodesk Fusion 360 software.
Additionally, he took an online Zoom course taught by Ziu to become proficient in the Prusa slicer. Currently, he dedicates two evenings a week, from 5 pm to 9 pm, to his lab projects.
Aldalou shared, “I’m involved in various projects, including circuit design and signal transmission. I tend to procrastinate, but the deadline for the design challenge kept me focused.”
With the design challenge behind him, Aldalou is now focusing on a remote-controlled plane project, echoing his childhood passion for making and selling toy planes in Syria. In those days, he applied simple mathematics and basic materials like glue sticks, A4 paper, pens, scissors, and paper clips to bring his creations to life.
Pursuing degrees in engineering and math, Aldalou’s initial career aspirations leaned towards piloting. However, frequent relocations and a desire for family time shifted his focus to computer engineering, fueled by his love for math and experience in building computers in Lebanon.
He credits his NOVA success to professors like Viale and Chinthaka Hettitantri, his calculus instructor, and appreciates the ongoing support from his high school counselor, Michael Todd, and the Fab Lab team, especially Kai Le.
Aldalou aims to graduate from NOVA this year with associate degrees in engineering and math, planning to transfer to George Mason University for a bachelor’s degree in computer science. His ultimate goal is a PhD in mathematics, aspiring to make significant contributions to quantum computing.