Playing the game of tic–tac–toe is a win-win

Who knew Maude Weisser '21 is a tic-tac-toe shark? Or that Brandon McCarraher '21 is victorious at 3D printing game board pieces?  In the Digital Modeling & Fabrication shop we are about having fun, in addition to jam-packed days of learning!

Brandon showing off his 3D printer game pieces.  


With our semester progressing, we are all winning by learning software such as Rhino and Solidworks. However, machining programming can be found in G-coding and our introduction to CAD (computer aided design). The final output can be seen in our tic-tac-toe game boards, snap-fitting from fabricated aluminum rails by using the Tormach CNC milling machine that we have here in class.

The computer programming of the Tormach CNC.


The basic tools that lead to the understanding of automated processes.


Setting up and using the CNC machine.

Studying with our master-of-ceremonies and machinist guru Instructor Dean Robinson, we are introduced to advanced principals in addition to other DMF program modules in the creation of our game boards.

During the beginning months of school, Dean introduced us to the Bridgeport mill and Southbend lathe. These winning machines have been around for generations and, indeed, are the real deal. A pre-cursor to the CNC machines we learn later, these authentic machines form the foundational knowledge to progress to advancing machining.  Early on, I realized that most everything manufactured with precision is related to these 2 tools in some way, shape, or form.

Now progressing onto advanced machining, we are being taught G-code which will be used to fabricate our designs using advanced CNC (computer numerical control) tools. I know that within my creative and professional years ahead, I will steadfastly refer back to this methodical approach. I will be able to troubleshoot and fix any root issue caused in CNC programming for a successful result.

Greg and Malcolm working with Dean on the CNC machines.


It may be all fun-and-games on the surface, but underlying is the 4-quadrant coordinate system relating to the X, Y, and Z axis. This, my friend, is the key component when participating in the world of CNC.

I feel grateful to be studying with Dean. A big proponent of my decision to attend IYRS was to study with this amazing fabricator! A fellow sailor himself, we often laugh about sailing stories while finding humor in the classroom every day we work together.  I must say that in every class, it’s certain that you will hear his astute, generous, and infectious laughter. It’s a win-win when you are learning cutting edge skills with a light-hearted, productive tone.

Dean’s background in designing sailboat standing-rigging components and sail-reefing designs for the marine industry and is a side-conversation trophy in class.  As my student career progresses, I appreciate the precision and techniques that Dean is seasoned with and to hear his experiences of what it’s like in the marine and fabrication world after IYRS. 

Brandon monitoring the 3D printing of his game pieces.

Circling back to the game and this class module, I now have a new appreciation of what it takes to make a tic-tac-toe game using rudimentary programming principals.

Tom and Brandon having a little Tic Tac Toe competition.

Thanks to Dean for the strategic moves and to my classmate, Maude, for letting me win some of our matches, once in a while!

Completed game board.


Brandon's completed game pieces.