Engineering students build semester-ending projects from recyclables

By Joe Wyatt

Amarillo College engineering students assembled semester-ending projects from the likes of salvaged bicycles, discarded soda cans and old cardboard. While their actual grades are still pending, their teacher immediately granted everyone an honorary A for effort.

Professor Kathryn Wetzel charged her students in Engineering Dynamics with using recycled materials to construct kinetic art pieces – machines capable of spinning in at least two different directions. Her students in Engineering Statics, meanwhile, were tasked with fashioning load-bearing furniture from nothing more than used cardboard.

With budgets not to exceed $5, Wetzel’s students in the Dynamics class produced an eclectic assortment of machines that, along with the cardboard furniture, were put on display Dec.1-2 in and around the Engineering Building on AC’s Washington Street Campus.

“My students were all-in with their enthusiasm for these projects,” Wetzel said. “It’s just so exciting to be back to a world in which students can collaborate face-to-face. Due to the pandemic it had been a while, but they all did a fantastic job.”

Jason Arredondo and Luis Contreras teamed up to build a windmill-like apparatus with two, different-sized wheels that spin in opposite directions and at different speeds.
“We modeled it on Luis’s conception of a space station,” Arredondo referenced his partner. “It has revolving platforms that spin when exposed to gusts of wind. It was based on our study of angular velocity and came out pretty good, I think.”

Each Dynamics project included a written report that detailed a cost analysis, mathematical calculations and an overall summary.

The Static furniture display featured all sorts of tables, stools and decks, and at least one rocking chair.

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