Nice story! This reminds me of when I used to enter science and engineering fairs in high school. I'd always end up madly soldering, rewriting and debugging C or VHDL code and redoing results on the night before judging... and almost missing flights too. One time I even got some new (literally) last-minute circuit boards shipped to the hotel I was staying in, haha. Those were some fun days.
There is an innovation some way or other behind every success. I felt the tension of meeting the deadline while going through the story. Nice one! May be next time you should add some buffer in your plan for tackling the things not happening as expected :)
Some of the details are good lessons...
Supply chain - yes, parts will be late. Count on it.
Broken pressure chamber - test equipment will fail when needed most.
Seek help with a smarter engineer - Dad in this case, but very good advice. AKA Mentoring.
Make do with jerry-rigged equipment if necessary. Better than no equipment.
Make that deadline in spite of all setbacks. Hiring managers will be impressed.
Murphy's Law supersedes all others.
Good story, Terry. You'll go far.
This tale certainly points out the value of a diversified education, or at least, diversified experience. If one were a very narrow-path specialist, then all of the other helpers as mentioned by Bob, above, would indeed be required. This story shows why the broader experiences in engineering are needed. Good job on the vacuum chamber part, by the way.
I am sure that the canned solution was needed to preserve your graduation! A good story and an great illustration of common sense intersecting with necessity. The project does sound overly ambitious to me also.
If you were doing this senior design project by yourself, it was seriously over-scoped. Where was your advisor? Did the fellow have any experience bending metal, or was he a basic theorist? I'm glad you drove the project to completion, but some of your grief load was out of your hands... well, all's well that ends well, I suppose.