Stairway to 42: Computer-Controlled Lights

Inspired by big company’s billboards, Joe Eftekhari decided to build an impressive illuminated display above the main stairway in 42. His idea was to design a “42 Silicon Valley” that can shine in different colors and flash remotely controlled by a computer program.

Starting from scratch, he easily gathered a highly-motivated team amongst 42 student population and received great support from the school managers. Once they got all the materials, they had to 3d print the letters and then cut, strip and connect all of the wires to perfectly fit each letter.

After two weeks, the team has achieved the first stage of the project: the display switches nicely in different colors above the stairway. They have presently planned to add sensors underneath the letters to enlighten each part of the display to follow when someone walks all the way up the stairs.

Stairway-to-42

The Team

stairway-team

Interview with Joe, man with the idea

Name: Joe Eftekhari

Hometown: Fresno, CA

Interests: Child Development, Blockchain, Programming, Computer Science, Game Development, Learning, Teaching, Playing Video Games

What is the purpose of your project?

The purpose was to learn about lighting, with LED lights, and about electricity, how to connect and use wires. The main part of the project was to learn how to write a program that changed the lights to how I wanted them to be: they can be all red, or all white, or they can flash, something like that.

Describe the work you do for the project. What is most difficult?

Once we got all the materials, we had to cut them to the appropriate size of each of the letters. And we had to print the letters with 3D printing. And we failed a couple times doing that so we had to reprint them, and test if something was bad. After that, we were able to put a thin layer of white carbon fiber on top to make them look nice. And then after that we had to cut a bunch of wires, strip it and connect them all together. And that part is the hardest part because it is little tiny wires, and your fingers hurt after a while of stripping them.

What do you enjoy most about your project?

I enjoy learning about new things that I don’t really know much about. So learning about electricity was really fun for me. But I also am really excited about the finished product and what is going to look like. And then also working with my team, my team has been really fun to work with.

What kind of support do you receive from 42?

42 has been super supportive. I pitched them my idea and within two or three days they accepted it. And they gave us the fund we needed for the sign. We didn’t finish it in the time that we wanted to show them. But they are still very supportive of it. We wouldn’t be able to do that without 42.

What did you learn from this project?

Group management. When you are working in a team, your deadlines are not always going to be completed in time. So you have to look for ways to around that. How to manage a team is probably the biggest thing.

What is your dream job or your long-term career goals?

Originally I wanted to be a video game producer. Now I am not so sure. I am really interested in Bitcoin. I just want to work for a company that I can learn from. And I just really want to learn as I possibly can and do interesting things.

published by Jennifer Robertson – October 26, 2017