The COVID-19 Pandemic made significant changes to my life in 2020. Among many, one of the most significant would be my decision to move to New Mexico with my dad to help take care of him during the pandemic. It was there that I had my first taste of exclusively online learning (and how I dislike it), how I got my first taste of absolute freedom with my car, and of how I got to connect with my dad.

My dad is a very skilled tradesman, however as a child I never picked up any of his skills all too well and by the time I could appreciate them my parents had separated since. Of course I would still see him here and there but for two weeks at most each time. This pandemic gave me the opportunity to be with him since my home here in California is very crowded and I wanted to see him again. What was originally going to be just a short 3-month stay turned into a near year long one as the campus didn’t reopen for the Fall 2020 semester. As a result I got to be with my dad for a total of 9 months, from March 2020 to January 2021. Not only did I catch up with him, but I also learned various things from him, such as how to wire a car speaker to how to cut down a tree properly. He gave me a newfound interest in tinkering and building again.

During that time my airsoft hobby bloomed from an event I partook in on occasion while on break from the CI dorms to a bimonthly obsession. In airsoft one of the key components is tinkering, from cosmetic additions to internal upgrades and modifications. And that’s where this idea was born. When I racked my brain for capstone ideas I wanted to do something that I was passionate about so that way I’d be more motivated to work on it. So to combine programming with airsoft the logical conclusion I came to was to make this turret.

This whole project, from it getting approved to me putting it all together and having it work was a series of miracles, all coming in one after another to keep me going when things took a nosedive in October. Two days before my birthday I got into a car accident, which while I came away unharmed ruined my confidence in driving. A week after my birthday my father was hospitalized with pneumonia caused by COVID-19. The 2 weeks I spent without him, wondering if this virus was going to kill him is the what I’d consider to be my own personal hell. Of course despite everything, all I could do was carry on, if anything just to keep my mind off of him. Miraculously, he recovered the month after. And miraculously, while my grades took a hit, I passed a full semester load of classes never going below a B.

After the year finished up I moved back to California to do my final semester here in the dorms on campus, like I had wanted to do prior to COVID. Being set up with an apartment here in Town Center, this was the first time I ever truly lived on my own. No parents, no roommates, only me. Thanks to my mom I was well equipped for this, but I believe much of my preparation for this was back in New Mexico. And so I worked, sourcing parts for my turret and designing, printing, and redesigning parts as the months passed by. Infusing everything that I have learned here at CI with the newfound knowledge I picked up from my father. And miraculously, it all paid off.

In conclusion this capstone was born out a desire not only to combine my two passions together, but to show my dad how much of an influence those 9 months had on me. Of how he taught me a line of thinking I previously overlooked. How to combine the virtual space of thinking with the physical, the controller with the machine, the brain and the body.

In short, this is for you, dad.