When he first arrived on campus, Jason Lin ’25 seen one thing about Stanford college students: they love tinkering with completely different objects in hopes of constructing one thing new.
“I simply stored on noticing folks throughout campus constructing unbelievable issues out of their very own pocket,” Lin mentioned, recalling one pupil who was constructing a fingerprint scanner to open doorways.
However, Lin says he felt one thing was lacking. Everybody was engaged on initiatives in their very own dorms, however there wasn’t a central community for everybody to satisfy and work collectively.
He wasn’t alone on this feeling; Lin’s good friend Elijah Kim ’25 famous that regardless of the existence of different engineering golf equipment, it was tough to discover a house to construct “enjoyable, wacky initiatives” that didn’t match into any particular class.
That’s when Lin, Kim and some different college students determined to start out Stanford Moonshot Membership, a pupil group devoted to what Lin calls “inclusive tinkering.”
“What we wish to do is create these areas for those who could be newer to engineering to essentially work on these initiatives with an inclusive group and really feel empowered to do these initiatives,” Lin mentioned.
Moonshot Membership has produced quite a few initiatives since its founding this 12 months, from making cube for board video games to cloaks for costumes. Extra just lately, the membership showcased its motorized sofa round campus and on social media. A TikTok video of the sofa posted by Lin has garnered over one million views on TikTok, even catching the eye of Microsoft Training, which commented underneath the viral TikTok, “Going to class in model.”
The now-famous sofa is darkish blue and propped up on a picket body. It’s large enough to seat three folks, though the viral video of it solely reveals one particular person driving at a time. To drive the sofa, customers steer it with a joystick.
Charlie Nicks ’25 noticed the sofa shifting as she was strolling to class in the future. She had already heard concerning the sofa from her good friend, Scott Hickmann ’25, who was engaged on the mission. As soon as she lastly did get to see the sofa, she says it “brightened her day.”
“I wasn’t significantly shocked [to see the couch] — extra simply glad to see a Stanford pupil doing issues,” Nicks mentioned. “Loads of my good friend group consists of people that take pleasure in making issues, and I do too, so it’s nice to be in an atmosphere the place that’s celebrated and mainstream fairly than seen as bizarre.”
Charlie Kogen ’24, noticed the sofa on Instagram and was reminded of a section from “Impractical Jokers” the place a personality was driving on a suitcase. “[The couch] is simply type of goofy. I benefit from the frivolity of it, nevertheless it might be helpful to folks,” Kogen mentioned.
Different college students additionally described the sofa as goofy or as one thing that made them recognize attending Stanford.
“I really feel like I’d purchase that spontaneously when wine-drunk,” Krishnan Nair ’22 MS ’23 mentioned.
Nicole Segaran ’25, one of many membership’s co-founders, felt she benefited from the house supplied by Moonshot Membership. When she thinks of a few of the different engineering golf equipment at Stanford, she feels that typically she’s restricted within the sorts of initiatives she will get to work on. Quite than becoming a member of a membership that had a particular area of interest or curiosity, she wished to be a part of an area the place she may experiment extra broadly with completely different concepts — and Moonshot gave her simply that.
The motorized sofa particularly was one thing Lin, Kim and their good friend Lawton Skaling ’25 had been engaged on earlier than the membership’s founding, spending days driving backwards and forwards to Residence Depot to seek out the right picket planks.
In accordance with Skaling, the group initially “took a sofa from Crothers after which made a picket body, which value like $40 of wooden, after which put Jason’s electrical skateboard beneath it.”
“Early variations had two electrical skateboards underneath there, however that was unhealthy as a result of you possibly can’t actually flip, in any other case the skateboards fly out,” Lin mentioned. Now, as a substitute of two skateboards, the sofa is powered by two motors much like ones on electrical scooters.
The group didn’t actually begin to hone in on the mission till they based Moonshot Membership and began internet hosting constructing periods for this particular mission. In accordance with Hickmann, as soon as the membership obtained funding from the ASSU, they had been in a position to actually get to work on the sofa.
Stanford Moonshot Membership obtained about $10,000 from the Undergraduate Scholar Council (UGS) for the 2022-2023 tutorial 12 months.
The preliminary iteration of the sofa ended up costing Lin, Kim and Skaling round $300, which was cash that the group pooled from their very own pockets. With ASSU funding, the group was in a position to afford greater high quality supplies and ended up spending round $1000 on their mission.
After buying higher high quality supplies and one entire quarter of constructing later, the motorized sofa was up and zooming via campus.
As a member of the membership, Hickmann was in a position to work totally on the software program for the sofa and helped make the sofa semi-autonomous. In different phrases, the sofa is programmed to have the ability to comply with somebody who’s sporting a inexperienced shirt. Sooner or later, Hickmann and different members of the membership hope to program the sofa so it may be absolutely self-driving.
“I don’t understand how that’s going to prove, but when that finally ends up working, that may be completely unbelievable,” Hickmann mentioned.
“I didn’t tinker earlier than school, and so, I’m additionally pretty new to all of this. And one of many issues that I’ve realized is, shopping for elements for initiatives is basically onerous,” Lin mentioned. “They arrive from suppliers from all over.”
Regardless of the challenges, Lin is grateful for the group he has constructed at Moonshot Membership — a sentiment shared by a few of his fellow membership members.
Julia Gershon ’25 discovered herself struggling to discover a house for her inventive endeavors. Throughout quarantine, Gershon received into Dungeons and Dragons and started making her personal cube for the sport.
On campus, nevertheless, she struggled to seek out methods to maintain her ardour. Between the campus arts grants she needed to repeatedly apply for and the restrictions she discovered working within the Product Realization Lab, she felt that there wasn’t a extra casual house for her to make her cube.
With Moonshot Membership, Gershon says she discovered that casual house for her dice-making.
“I believe it’s a very good mission as a result of it’s a strategy to type of mix the humanities and the sciences, which is one thing we’re actually obsessed with,” Gershon mentioned. “We wish to make house for type of the stereotypically inventive folks in addition to the people who find themselves inventive in ways in which you may not initially contemplate.”
As for future initiatives, Moonshot Membership is contemplating every thing from a calendar that generates a brand new poem every day to education-based chatbots to a selfie bot. Regardless of the mission could also be, membership members say they hope that future initiatives carry the identical wow-factor and campus enthusiasm because the motorized sofa.
“Our membership known as Moonshot. We do wish to shoot for the moon,” Segaran mentioned.