Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Final Project

Question 1

For the final project, I have created a turn-signal sweater/jacket. This jacket is designed for bikers to use, especially at night. When it is dark outside, it can be dangerous for those who are in bicycle to bike, since they will not be able to signal if they’re going to turn left or right. With this jacket/sweater, they can give a signal to other vehicles on the road. By pressing the button on the respective sleeve of the sweater, the lights on their back will blink, indicating the direction that they are turning.

Before this project, I thought that making this project is going to be difficult and complicated. That is because I have never used the materials that are required to be used, such as washable LED, conductive threat and Adafruit Flora. Since I’m not experienced with coding or have any experience on the board, I had some difficulties getting the code to the circuit. I looked for helped online, visiting the Adafruit website, YouTube and other tutorial websites, but I still could not get my circuit to work. Fortunately, after seeking help from the Fab Lab staff, I was able to figure the code out. I’m certainly proud for figuring out how to set up the circuit. Certainly, I did get a lot of help from Jess, but I did try to sketch out a circuit that I think would work and to my surprise, I got it almost correct!

initial rough sketch

Circuit was successfully attached!

Overall, I am very satisfied with my sweater! Nevertheless, if I have more time, I would do several things differently. First, I would get a darker jacket. Since the conductive thread is dark grey, I think by using a darker color will hide it, making the sweater even more seamless. Although the flora, conductive thread and the LED lights are washable, I’ve been told that too much wash would erode the conductivity. Thus, to prevent this, I would make an insert that can be taken off and be washed. Alternatively, considering that we’re all college students, moving the circuit to a backpack would be cool too!

Final Design (With pocket to store battery)

Final Design: Video

Question 2

For this final project, I have the following learning goals:

  1. I want to challenge myself to create something that is useful to myself and make it usable in everyday life, instead of just a rough concept.  

After my project is done, I’m quite satisfied with what I have. Surprisingly, the project that I made is pretty useful in real life! However, I do regret using a pink sweater for the base. Initially, my plan was to use a black zip-up hoodie that the user can take on/off easily. However, I do not have any spare zip-up hoodies, nor do I have a black sweater. Because the sweater is so light in color, the conductive thread became so apparent against the fabric. Nevertheless, I still think that the final project is still useful. With Adafruit Flora, conductive thread, and the washable LED lights, the sweater is waterproof and washable. I have also sewed a piece of fabric on it to create a pocket to store the battery. Thus, the battery won’t be dangling out when the user is wearing it.


  1. I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone by doing something I’ve never done before, using the Lilypad Arduino/Adafruit Flora and sewable circuits. This means I will have to do research on how they work and how to use them and ask the Fab Lab staff for help. 

While I have learned how to use Arduino Uno, I never actually used a different board before. Being a business student, coding is really out of my comfort zone. Based on a tutorial I found online, I was supposed to use the Lilypad Arduino. However, I found out that this was not available at the Fab Lab but an Adafruit Flora would work perfectly as well. I decided to try using the Adafruit Flora and seek the internet for help. However, I found little to no help at all online. I decided to ask around the Fab Lab staff to help me and found out that Jess from the Fab Lab had done similar projects before. Thus, with her help, I was able to work on the code and the circuit.


As I look through my past assignments and my past lab assignment write-ups, I found out that I have certainly stretched my creativity over the past semester. I would never call myself a ‘maker’ before. I have always felt that I am someone who likes to stay in her comfort zone and is someone who would always take the easy way to do stuff. However, the assignments have challenged me to do many things that I have never done before, learning about tools like 3D printing, laser cutting, circuit making and many more! As I learn about these tools, I wonder what other things I can create by using the tools.


Question 3

As I looked at the things that I made earlier, I noticed how the things I made started out with things that are really simple and ‘safe’ to do. However, as the semester goes, I started to make things that are more interesting. Sure, I did look at the internet for some inspiration, but I did put on my little touch on it to personalize the result. Although my project might not always look as good as the ones that I try to get inspiration from, I am still very proud of the result. I have also become more confident with what I do and am more willing to try. With that, I often go ahead with my gut and see if it works out. Often when it doesn’t, I would trace back what I did and try again. This is especially true with the pom-pom bot assignment. With this final project, I was also able to show resilience. There were many times during this project where I felt that the project was too difficult and wanted to give up to do something easier. Nevertheless, I managed to push my way through and complete the project. 


Question 4

There are certainly other makers out there who are making life-changing innovations or something that no one has seen before. Me, on the other hand, is an amateur who only know how to operate the tools in the most basic way. With that in mind, I often think to myself, “does this make me be a maker?” This is still a debate that I often I have with myself. Evidently, often my ideas are not that original. Considering that I am a business major, I also often think, are any of the things I learned in this class going to be useful? However, just like Seymour Papert suggested, the most significant learning is a) hands-on and b) personally meaningful. In that case, I have learned a lot. It is true that what I’ve learned in this class will not be as beneficial as my other business classes when I enter the corporate world. Nevertheless, throughout the class, I have constantly challenged myself to do things that are outside my comfort zone and things that I never do before. These soft skills are certainly important not only professionally, but personally as well. I also like the fact that being able to create new things, I was able to express myself in the things that I create.




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Assignment 8: Iteration

This week, we were tasked to make something new out of the things that we have learned throughout the semester. Earlier in the semester, I have created a motion sensor LED light where the LED light lights up when motion is detected. To iterate on that design, I decided to create a ‘smart dustbin’ that opens its lid when it detects motion (people trying to throw things). For this project, I have used laser cutting and Arduino. 

Motion sensor LED light

Initial design for project

To make the body of the dustbin, I decided to create a cube out of plywood. I used in order to print out the outline of the box. Using this website, I did not have to figure out the measurements in order to cut off the plywood. I have also measured out my sensor and added in the necessary holes for the box.

After printing having my six sides of the cubes cut off, I realised that I did not consider that a little space is needed in order to put the boxes together. As a result, I had to use a hammer to hit the corners of the boxes together. (I felt really bad because I was making so much noise at the Fablab!) While it was more trouble than expected to put the box together, the box has become really hard to pull apart, which is actually a good thing! 

After putting the box together, I used the code from the motion sensor project and edited it so that the output will move the servo 180 degree (in order to open the lid of the dustbin). Instead of using the PIR motion sensor, I decided to use the ultrasonic sensor.  This took a while as I do not have a lot of coding experience, but thanks to Google, I managed to get it to work! 

Here’s a picture of my final project:

Essentially, the dustbin will detect if someone passes by. When it detects motion, it will send to servo to turn a 180 degree. I initially wanted to place the servo inside the box, but found it hard to make the lid to close once it opens. Thus I decided to put the servo on top of the lid/ outside the box. Since the tip of the servo is connected to the lid, the servo will pull the lid along with it, opening the dustbin. Here, it took me some trial and error to figure out the right tension of the string between the tip of the servo and the lid. Since a looser tension will not close the lid when servo goes back to its initial position, and a higher tension will prevent the servo to turn a full 180 degree. Nevertheless, after some time, I finally managed to get it to work.

Here’s a video of it at work: smart dustbin

However, I realised that the lid is not closing properly after a couple of rounds. I figured that this is because the gap between the two parts of the lids (that is connected by the tape) becomes loose after several rounds, pushing the smaller lid outward. I realised that I should have cut down this section maybe about 2-3mm smaller in order for this work seamlessly. 

Certainly, my project is not perfect and there is still room for improvement, but I’m pretty proud with what I was able to make for this project. 

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Assignment 7: Locomoting Bots

For this week’s assignment, we learned how to use servo on Arduino. The aim of the assignment is to make a moving robot that can move from point A to point B. 

For my first design, I decided to make a dancing man. My motivation in making this robot is to make a robot that can “hype” up any song that’s playing in the background. While the assignment calls for a robot that can move from one point to another, this robot is just waving his hands up in the air. 

Initial design of dancing man

This is fairly easy as the basic cade for the servo is already listed in the example of the Arduino Uno application. I did tinkered with it to make the swerving motion to be between certain angles instead of 180 degrees. I also changed the delay and the degree that changes to change the speed of the motion. By doing this, I will be able to make the robot dance to a certain rhythm. 

Here’s a link to the dancing robot.

For the second part of the assignment, I wanted to make a robot that moves. My inspiration was a snake/worm that moves by contracting and expanding.

I tinkered with the code that I had earlier in the first assignment and tried to make the motor be the joint that allows the popsicle sticks to expand and contracts. I initially had a hard time figuring out how to locate the servo and set the degree of movement on the motor. However, after some frustration and numerous attempts, I finally managed to find an angle that works. I also had to attach a large area of popsicle at the end of my robot to stablize it so that it can stand on its own. 

Robot Snake before decoration

At this stage, the robot moved, but not like how I would like it to move. Instead of moving forward, it is moving at an angle so that it’s moving at an angle (circle). I figured out that some wheels would make the snake move forward, but I did not have them in hand. Thus, I decided to move on with the project. 

Final design

Interestingly, after I decorate my model, my robot is no longer moving in circles. However, it is just rocking back and forth without actually moving anywhere. 

Robot Snake after decoration

Through this project, I realised how hard it is to make the robot move forward without a motor that in 360 degrees or wheels. If I were to reiterate on this project, I would try to find a way to remove the base of the model and make sure that it’s still able to stand on its own. I would probably need another servo to make sure that the snake moves. 

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Assignment 6: Arduino Introduction

This week, we learned to use Arduino to create multiple projects. For the first project, we programmed LED lights using Arduino UNO. We make the lights blink to the morse code of “SOS”. For the next project, we learned how to make a touch sensor using aluminum foil. I am initially not confident with this project as I do not have much coding experience. However, after attending the class, I realized that we are just using codes that are already available. I found that the comments in the initial code are really useful as it helps me to tinker with it. 

For the next part, we had to come up with a conception that uses input from a sensor using the Arduino device. I’ve decided to use the motion sensor where the LED light will light up when motion is detected. 

Ideally, the sensor will detect if there are people in the room. If there is no one in the room, the light will remain not lighted. This way, it will help the user to save up on electricity. 

I initially had trouble setting up the cables and the Arduino. However, after looking it up online, and especially YouTube, I was finally able to complete the set up. Here is the following code that I used:

I’ve found the code online, and initially, the code will only make the LED light up for only 100 milliseconds. I thought that this is too short if it were to be placed in a room. So, I changed the delay to 100,000 milliseconds so that the light will turn on for a longer period of time. As you can see, the light lights up as my hand gets closer to the sensor.

Overall, I think that this week’s product is pretty enjoyable and pretty quick to use. 


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Assignment 5: Sewing & Digital Embroidery

This week, we learned how to do sewing and embroidery. While I do not know much about sewing with a machine, I thought I knew the basic skills required to sew as I have learned how to hand sew to fix some of my clothes. However, after this week, I realized that I am not even close to being good.

For the first part of the assignment, we were tasked to make a drawstring pouch. This task was fairly easy and I managed to get the task done easily. It was my first time using a sewing machine and I was amazed how quickly I can get the task done. However, during the sewing process, I did not pay attention to what I was doing and I had accidentally sewn the ‘bad’ side and the ‘good’ side together although we were supposed to sew the two ‘bad’ sides together. Realizing I my pouch would not to become a pouch, I decided to use a sew ripper to rip the thread. This process took a really long time but I eventually managed to get it done. After carefully putting the pieces together, I managed to finalize my pouch. I am quite satisfied with my result and I have been using my pouch as my chord holder ever since.

The drawstring is quite a success!

The next week, we learned how to use the sewing machine to do machine embroidery. We first used InkScape to edit our design and transferred it to PEDesign, which we later on transferred to the sewing machine. I find this really interesting as I did not know that there was so much editing required to do embroidery. For this project, I decided to embroider a picture of a strawberry, where I found myself facing some trouble with. My strawberry design got a little ‘fuzzy’ at first. However, after Duncan and Emilie helped me with the sewing machine, I managed to get my print right.

Embroidery got ‘fuzzy’

Lastly, for the final project, I decided to make a pouch with a unicorn embroidery design. I thought I would be able to finish this project quickly before spring break, but the whole project way longer than I had expected. There seemed to be a problem with the machine that I used that caused the embroidery to jam every now and then. After I called one of the FabLab staff to help me, I picked up a new machine. While this machine worked smoother than before, I noticed that the bobbin thread was showing up on my pattern. By the time I noticed this, I was already in my fourth hour in the FabLab and I did not want to repeat the whole embroidery pattern all over again. Now, my pattern looks like it’s inside out. I sew a zipper onto the fabric and quickly sew them together to make it into a pencil case. The zipper part got me a little confused at first as I realized that I have to put in some thought on which side to sew to make it like the pencil case that I want. Although my pattern did not come out as great as I planned, I think that my pencil case looks really cute and I will use it.

Unicorn pencil case: Failed

Though I really enjoyed sewing, I found digital embroidery to be really difficult. I really think that both sewing skills and embroidery skills will increase with practice. If I were to redo this assignment, I would really pay attention to the machine more carefully to make sure that I would catch any mistake early in the process to avoid the mistake that I did. I would definitely plan out and allocate more time for the embroidery as it took such a large portion of the process. Overall, I think that the project was really fun, but I would not want to repeat the embroidery part anytime soon. 

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Assignment 4: 3D Lab

This week, we are exploring 3D printing and 3D scanning. This is really exciting as while I have 3D printed something for one of my classes previously, I have never actually designed the product nor have I 3D scanned something.

Castle made on TinkerCAD
Monster on Meshmixer
3D Scanning of myself

After we scanned ourselves, I was surprised by how easy and quick it was to 3D scan. Using the inspector and auto correct feature on Meshmixer, I was able to delete off the unwanted parts of the Scanned diagram.

For the second part of the assignment, I decided to design some flatwares for my enemies. I have combined the idea of a spoon, fork, and knife into the flatware. Although Meshmixer has more features, after playing around with TinkerCAD and Meshmixer I decided to design my flatware on TinkerCAD since it is much more easier to use.

Since it is for my enemy, I designed it so that it is impossible to use. The first flatware is a combination of a spoon and a fork. However, there is a big hole in the spoon, thus no food can be picked up. The fork is also inside the hole of the spoon. This also prevents food to be picked up. The second flatware is a combination of fork and knife. Here, the ends of the fork are connected, which prevents it to pierce through any food. The knife is also in the middle prong of the fork. Since the length of the knife is shorter than the prongs of the fork, it’ll not be able to pick up anything. To make it even more impossible to use, I have made the handles of the flatwares to be really short.

Impossible Flatwares
Spoon+Fork & Fork+Knife
Final Print of the Impossible Flatware

Once my final design was printed, I decided to connect the two flatwares together with a string of ribbon so that it’s even more abstract than before!

Overall, I think that this 3D printing assignment is very interesting and very exciting to me. While it is much easier to pick up how to use TinkerCAD, I think that it’s harder to pick up the skills to use Meshmixer. Since my current flatware is actually flat, if I were to improve on it, I would try to make the flatwares to be more curved (just like real spoons).

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Copper Tape Paper

This week, we were tasked to make a copper tape circuit and I think that this is the most tedious assignment so far. First, we were tasked to create a basic circuit following the template that was already provided to us. This task is relatively easy as the template is already given to us and we were only using one battery and one LED light.

Basic Copper Tape Circuit

Next, we were supposed to pick quotes and incorporate lights into the design. While there were given some quotes to choose from, I decided to use a phrase that has been popular from the arising Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”,  a series that teaches and encourages people to clean up. The phrase is “Does it Spark Joy?’ In the series, if an item does not ‘spark joy’ to the owner, they should remove the item in order to declutter

Quotes with Lights

For this task, I used 3 LED lights for this design. I arranged the lights in series and used 2 batteries at first. However, my lights did not light up. After seeking help from Emilie, we figured out that we needed to add another battery in order for the lights to light up. However, with the 3 batteries, we realised that the LED was too bright. As a result, with the online calculator, I found out that I needed to add a 150 ohm resistor. While the first task was fairly easy and quick to do, the second task took so much time as we had to figure out the calculation.

Origami Idea: Jumping Frog

For the third task, we were tasked to make a 3D paper objects with LED in it. For this, I decided to fold a jumping frog! I used to fold these origami jumping frogs a lot when I was younger and I thought that it will be a fun object to make for this project. Here, you would have to press the body of the frog in order to ‘push’ the frog to jump. Thus, my plan was to create eyes and tongue for the frog that would light up when the body is pressed.

I started by folding the paper into the desired shape first. After each fold, I try to press the paper down so that it creates a crease that can become an outline of where my circuit should be. Once I made the frog, I opened up the model and draw a template on how my circuit would look like. I initially thought that the circuit that I drew was great and would immediately work, I was wrong.

First Circuit Prototype (Failed)

After several tries, I could not make my initial circuit to work. I think there are too many breaks in the circuit, and although the paper is folded on top of each other, I think that they are not close enough to create a closed circuit. With that, I decided to make a simple circuit where the switch is only at the batteries. Luckily, for this circuit, I did not have to add a resistor to it, and the lights still lit up perfectly.

Final circuit

One the circuit worked, I folded the paper back again and added a strip of paper for the tongue. One the model is done, I was so relieved that it worked as it took me a couple of hours to figure out the circuit earlier.

Eyes and ‘Tongue’ lights up when body is pressed

While my model looks really cute, if I had the chance to improve on this model, I would add the red LED light on the tongue (red strip) of the frog instead of on the tip of the frog’s snout. This might be difficult though, since the circuit is actually beneath the folded part of the frog.

Final model: Lights lit up when pressed

Being a business student, it’s been a long time since I have learned and played around with circuit. Though I struggled with the calculation at first, I am glad that there is an online calculator that I can use for this project! Nevertheless, I think that my project went great and I think that it’s cool that my jumping frog has shiny eyes!

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Assignment 2: Layered Sticker

This week’s assignment is to make vinyl stickers using the Silhouette printer. For our first task, we were tasked to combine the silhouette of two animals together using the tools in Inkscape. For my creature, I decided to combine two animals, a porcupine and a whale. I call this creature “porcu-whale”. I really think that the porcu-whale looks really cute and interesting at the same time.


Next, I also printed a sticker of Grizzly Bear from the cartoon We Bare Bears. This time, it is my first time actually making a multi-layer sticker. I first printed out a black silhouette of the bear, followed by the brown layer. For the brown layer, I cut out holes for the eyes, nose, mouth as well as the hand. This is where things did not go through as planned. When the brown layer came out of the printer, I noticed that the paw of the bear (from the brown layer) was not completely cut. As a result, it made its paw looking weird. On top of that, I was not careful enough when pasting the brown layer on top of the black layer. Thus, it looks like the bear has an uneven outline. As you can see, there is barely an outline on its belly, but too thick of an outline by his ear. I then proceeded to add his mouth and tongue, and here, I found my hand trembled a lot as I tried to paste them with a tweezer. As a result, its mouth looked really messy. Nevertheless, I still think that my Grizzly Bear still look cute despite its flaws!

Grizzly Bear from We Bare Bears

Lastly, I also printed designed and printed a Belle sticker. I was inspired by my friend who is a big fan of the Disney Princess, in particular, Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Inspiration and design of sticker

Using the tools in Inkscape, I layered two ovals on top of each other and made the Belle silhouette into a one color silhouette. Then, I decided to add some rose border around my oval to represent the enchanted rose from the story. The initial rose border that I found actually has three color tone to it and is quite large. Thus, I decided to remove a couple of rosebuds from the border using the “square and difference” method that we learned in the lab section. To make it more ‘Belle’ like, I decided to stay with Beauty and the Beast’s color palette, which is blue, yellow, brown, and red for the rose. Since the rose was outside the oval, I also decided to have a white rectangle as base layer as well.

Since the white, blue, yellow and brown layers are pretty simple and straight-forward, I did not have much trouble with them. However, since the roses petals are in individual little pieces, I had some troubles transferring them. Initially, I removed the large ‘unwanted’ piece, hoping that the rose petals would stay. However, this did was not case as most of the rose petals had come off on my first try.

Attempt #1: Fail

With that, I decided to try a different method. Instead of pulling off the ‘unwanted’ piece first, I tried putting the transfer tape on top of the vinyl once it came out of the printer. Then, I rubbed down the transfer tape real good, hoping that each petal would stick to the transfer tape. Thankfully, this method works!

Attempt #2: transfer tape on top of vinyl
Attempt #2: Success!

In the end, I made two copies of the Belle sticker since I wanted to keep one for myself, and would like to give the other to my friend. However, in one of the copy, I realized that I have left an air bubble on it, though it’s not so apparent. Overall, I think that this whole project is a success and I think that my design is really pretty. If I had not made and designed it myself, I would totally believe if someone says that the Disney store sells them!

Final Product <3
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We had a lecture about storyboarding last week! In that lecture, Jeff told us to get in groups of threes, pick an idea to illustrate, and draw a storyboard! My groupmates and I picked the “App for the Fab Lab” idea.

For the setting, we have decided to have it from the point of view of a student. Here, the student was struggling on how to use the machine in the Fab Lab. He tried to look for help, but no one is there to help him. Luckily, he found an app for the Fab Lab that contains videos and instructions on how to use the machines in the Fab Lab. With the instruction, he was able to complete the task without the help of anyone.

I really think that this was an interesting class exercise. I initially struggled as it has been since I sketched and I was afraid that my drawing is going to be bad. However, I realised that I do not have to draw so complex figures, as long as I was able to send my idea across through my drawing.

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Assignment 1: Laser Name Tag

This laser name tag assignment is my first time using a laser printer as well as my first time coming to the Fab Lab. Prior to this class, I have never seen a laser printer, let alone use one. During our lab session, Emilie taught us how to design our name tag on the Ink Space software and how to print our name tag using the laser printers in the lab. Though I did not have prior knowledge on both of the things that were taught, I quickly grasp on the idea and started on my project.

My first name tag

I initially did not know what kind of design I wanted to print for my name tag. I played around with some fonts and vectors until I settled with my design. After some time, I decided to print my name tag as shown. I located my name in a large, cursive font in the middle of the name tag. On top and below my name, I added borders around my name with a vector diagram of flower borders. I also decided to print my name in a rectangle with curved edges. Overall, I am pretty pleased with my final products. I think that the flower border, the cursive font, and the curved edges really complement each other to make my name tag look very “soft” looking and very feminine looking.

While I was pleased with my simple name tag, I quickly realised that career fair was coming up around the corner and I felt that my initial name tag is not professional-looking enough. As a result, for my final name tag, I decided to make a name tag that I can use to the career fair. I went on Pinterest and look at some business card to find a professional, and fun-looking business card and taking it as an inspiration for my own design.

For my second name tag, I opted in for a more simple, clean and professional look. I finally decided to keep the rounded edges on the second name tag, since I really like the softer looking edge, just like I had in the first one. Then, I raster engraved the top half of the name tag and typed my name to let my name pop up. With the cursive font that I had in my first one, I thought that it might be difficult for people to read my name. Thus this time, I decided to type my name in capitalization and in bold to make sure that the person reading my name can read my name quickly at first glance. Below my name, I also included my major, minor as well as my email address. Although I already have all the information I wanted to have on my name tag, I decided to add in a little graphic to my name tag to make it more attractive. To represent my major in Accountancy, I decided to add in numbers to the left top corner of my name tag.

Final name tag

While I am quite pleased with the end products that I have from this assignments, there are still some things that I wish I had done for this assignment. First, I think it would be cool to have different shapes as the base of my name tag. While I keep simplicity to both my designs, I would include more complex designs to my name tag if I were to do it again. Lastly, since I mostly raster engraved both my name tags, I think it will be really cool to try to vector engraved some designs into it as well!

The two name tags that I have designed definitely look nothing alike design wise. While the first one looks very casual, the second one looks way more professional. Nevertheless, I am pleased with both of the designs and have put both of the name tags to a good use. For the floral name tag, I decided to put it up on my bedroom door to personalised my door and to show-off my work! I have also used my second my name tag to the career fair and received many compliments on it. As most people at there are just using the cheap, plastic name tag, it is definitely a conversation starter to use this name tag at the career fair!

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