Design Review Report: Glass Writing Board(s)

The vision that I have for my main project is to design glass writing boards for the hallways in the dorm that I live on campus – Andrews Hall. This hall has been my home since I started my first year at CU, and the community there has allowed me to become better and feel supported in innumerous ways. I believe that a neat way that I can give back to this community is with these writing boards.

The idea for these boards actually came from the professor who directs the engineering honors program (EHP) in this hall. After some initial flushing out of ideas, I think that this should be a fun and rewarding project to work on. Additionally, I have always liked the look of the glass writing boards that were designed by students for the Idea Forge (here on campus). One of these boards is shown below. Some additional motivation for this project is that:

  • Glass writing boards always have a really clean look to them, but they can also be dull and boring
  • This project will bring more life and interest to them!
Glass Writing Board in the Idea Forge (on campus)
Glass Writing Board in the Idea Forge (on campus)

Dynamic Design: A big reason that I want to pursue this project is the method that it can and will be dynamic with time. These boards will provide each floor in Andrews Hall the opportunity to create their own identity through their own twist on the aesthetic design of the boards in the future. At the beginning of each new year, groups of freshmen will hopefully team up to come up with their own unique designs and work on bringing them to life throughout their time in the hall.

This aspect of low stress and hands on engineering is something that I wish I had had exposure to earlier in my college career. I believe that many students can benefit from a project like this because of the opportunities to learn things outside of the classroom. Specifically, I think that it is important to give them the chance to learn that we (as students) do not learn everything in the classroom; outside learning, curiosity, and experimenting must compliment classes (and will help with personal sanity).

Another way to say this is that I want to give students in Andrews Hall a yearly (renewable) project to work on with their peers.

  • Give ownership of their community
  • Practice and foster engineering education
  • Build community by working together, learning from peers, interfacing with upperclassmen, and creating something unique to show off personal stories


  • The cost of these custom writing boards will obviously be higher than that of an off-the-shelf solution; wall mounted whiteboards can be easily purchased online, but this is NOT what I want. The purpose of these writing boards is to build community and practice engineering by doing a hands-on project. If these boards are not made by the students, and they do not look like they are custom made, then I believe that they will lose their effect of building community and encouraging interest in engineering activities outside of the classroom. I believe that this impact on the students justifies a higher cost.
  • Using a greater range of materials also causes this project to require more learning on the part of future student builders. This will occur because a larger assortment of tools will need to be used in order to complete each board.

First impression: Upon everyone’s first impression of one of these glass writing boards in a hallway, I want them to experience one of two reactions:

  1. Be overwhelmed by the desire to walk up to the board in order to study everything about its aesthetic.
  2. Do a double-take as their brain subconsciously registers that there is more going on than initially meets the eye.

I do not envision the mechanical/technical design of these boards to be something that stands out. It should be the specific aesthetics applied to each board that catches peoples’ interest.

The Technical Design:

The general idea of the technical design of these boards is that at least one customizable base design will exist, but hopefully more than just one can be cleared and available. Saying that the base design will be customizable means that different aesthetics can be integrated into it. Right now, the two base designs that I will be pursuing are ones with either a wooden or metal frame.

Here is a SolidWorks design, showing my initial thoughts of the board design. Currently, the dimensions of the glass panel are being planned as 3′ x 6′.

Initial Wooden Glass Board Design on Wall
Initial Wooden Glass Board Design on Wall

This picture does not show any initial aesthetic integrated into the design, as no decisions have been made on this front yet. The next picture shows the same design, but with the metal wall studs visible through the wall.

Initial Wooden Glass Board Design with Struts
Initial Wooden Glass Board Design with Struts

These wall studs are important to mention because the attachment of the board(s) onto the wall is an integral part of this project’s design.

Andrews Hall has metal wall studs with a spacing of 16” and a width of around 1.25”. My chosen wall anchor/toggle for this project is the Snaptoggle. This toggle bolt is easy to use, strong, and highly recommended online, in hardware stores, and by personal friends. Here are additional details for the Snaptoggle:

  • Requires ½” wall hole and multiple fastener options exist (I will likely use ¼”-20 fasteners)
  • Minimum clearance behind wall: 1-⅞”
  • Flange of cap will be flush with wall, and toggle can be reused if the screw is taken out (problem with many other wall anchors)!
Snaptoggle image from
Snaptoggle image from



Writing Board Aesthetics:

Another great thing about this project is that the number of different aesthetics and creative elements that might be incorporated is huge, probably endless even! Here are some of the design ideas that I am interested in:

  • Steam punk
    • Gears ,machinery, and other industrial objects placed in a modern setting, robotics, robotic animation,
  • Nature
    • Roots, seasons, natural beauty, wood grain, hidden surprises
  • Space
    • Stars, spaceships, space travel/exploration, planets, space stations, extraterrestrials
    • Star trek, star wars
  • Modern/rustic
    • Clean looks with minimal functional annoyance
  • Pokémon!
  • Avatar – The Last Airbender
    • Water, Fire, Earth, Air
  • Medieval/Game of Thrones
    • Swords, dragons, gold, kings & queens, insignia/emblem (houses), shields,
  • Sports


  • Low-Profile –writing boards must protrude from walls as short a distance as possible
    • Boards hung on walls pose a snagging hazard to people carrying bags or items being moved through hallways
  • Durable
    • Boards must survive impacts and pressure from passer-bys and users
  • Safe
    • No sharp corners or loose components
    • safety glass must be used in the event that a board breaks – glass “pebbles” are produced instead of dangerous shards


  • Biggest challenge: achieving the design goal of a well-supported glass panel while still creating as thin a product as possible.
    • Not allowed to break! Even though safety glass will be used, the design of this board needs to be done right.
  • Housing and Dinning
    • Need to get permission for the actual hanging/attachment
  • Facilities management
    • Are there specific rules that facilities will require I follow before something can be hung on the wallls?
  • Attaching the aesthetics
    • Easy to think of designs and visions for the look of a board, but it will by no means be trivial to bring different ideas to life.
    • Are Tee-nuts required in wooden/metal border?
    • Ex: how attach swords to a board for a Game of Thrones/medieval aesthetic, and then how stop those attachment methods from ruining aesthetic of next design?
  • What happens if a new aesthetic in the future is not compatible with the board’s design (in order to implement the aesthetic, the design of the trim or thickness, or … would need to be changed)?
  • Prototyping
    • Scrap glass? – expensive otherwise!

In order to support my design process this semester, I have created an initial cost estimate for the wood design, shown below.

initial cost wood

Here is an initial timeline that I have sketched out for this project.

The most important items are my radar right now need to be:

  1. Finish Research (need to get a hold of Boulder Glass again)
  2. Finish preliminary CAD designing
  3. Have a PROTOTYPE before spring break!
    1. Go shopping for materials at beginning of week of March 7th.
Initial Glass Writing Board Schedule
Initial Glass Writing Board Schedule


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5 Comments. Leave new

  • […] are updates on my project since my design review (link). What may be most helpful is my list of refined questions and things to focus […]

  • Jakob Oreskovich
    May 4, 2016 2:04 pm

    Nice comprehensive report! It seems like you have everything really planned out. Can’t believe you have a Gant chart!! I also wish I’d had a project like this earlier on in my career, where there isn’t a ton of outside pressure or influence. Good luck!

  • Joseph Yoshimura
    March 9, 2016 12:16 pm

    This is such a great idea. I like the fact that you are planning on donating it to the dorms so that other people can use it. I might have missed this, but are you planning on making a shelf or a cup to hold markers or erasers. I would be more inclined to write and draw on something if I didn’t have to bring my own. However, if you think that they will not be changing it frequently and do something more like drawing one image to last the whole year, then I was completely wrong and adding a place to hold markers would be useless.

  • Roshan Misra
    March 7, 2016 7:50 pm

    I agree with Shawn! Are you planning on having your project at the end of the class as one in the wall in the dorm or do you think you might have to settle for something different due to time constraints? I know HDS can be awful to deal with!

  • Shawn Sprinkle
    March 7, 2016 4:58 pm

    This would be a nice addition to Andrews! Which aesthetic do you think you’ll start it out with? Are you thinking of putting a finish on the plywood or putting grid paper behind the glass? Good luck dealing with housing and dining!


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