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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students make sheet metal into musical instruments

    Mechanical engineering senior Dan Alfred, right, and computer engineering senior Tyler Coles, center, demonstrate their musical instrument design to spectators outside the Harvill building Friday.
    Mechanical engineering senior Dan Alfred, right, and computer engineering senior Tyler Coles, center, demonstrate their musical instrument design to spectators outside the Harvill building Friday.

    UA students displayed their engineering innovations Friday afternoon as they presented instruments they designed and created entirely out of scrap metal to a group of about 30 onlookers outside the Harvill building.

    Working together in their systems and industrial engineering class, Elite Seminar III, Music Instrumentation and Design, students split up into teams of four or five and turned pieces of metal from a local scrap yard into original instruments.

    One instrument, named “”The Fire Escape,”” was built out of fire extinguishers that were cut into different lengths to create musical notes when struck with sticks or hammers.

    “”The first time we went to the scrap yard, we weren’t sure what we wanted to do,”” said Nathan Welborne, a mechanical engineering sophomore. “”We found tons of cylinders and liked the tone when they were cut in half, so we decided to tune them and get them into scale.””

    The final result took nearly nine weeks of hard work that included a few full Saturdays, but Welborne said ultimately, he enjoyed the project.

    Another piece, named “”The Zarp,”” was a large, upright instrument that resembled a harp but was strung with bass and piano strings.

    “”This project was interesting because we all sat down and figured out what we wanted to do before we did it,”” said Tyler Treat, an engineering senior on the Zarp team. “”This is the most creative class I have ever taken. It has allowed me to apply engineering skills in an abstract way.””

    Composed mostly of engineering and music students, the class allowed students to combine their areas of knowledge to create their instruments, said Jeffrey Goldberg, professor of the course and associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Engineering.

    “”This is the first time we’ve done this,”” Goldberg said of offering the course, although he added it may also be available next spring. “”What impressed me most is how talented and broad these students are.””

    A key part of the class, Goldberg said, involved a visit from PHONK!, which performed in Saturday’s UApresents show. The group members similarly create their instruments from scrap metal and were available to offer feedback to the students at their presentation.

    “”I am knocked out,”” said Greg Kozak, co-founder and director of Scrap Arts Music, the company that produces PHONK! “”They’ve achieved what we have been doing for 10 years in 8 1/2 weeks. This is a great example of how non-linear thinking works.””

    Giving more kudos to the students, Kozak said he noticed that everyone at the presentation was smiling, and he was impressed students were able to make their instruments so aesthetically pleasing.

    Justine Murdy, a co-founder and co-director of Scrap Arts Music, said the students’ innovation with their instruments showed their creativity and unique perspectives.

    “”All of this was thrown away,”” Murdy said of the scrap metal. “”But when you look at it with fresh eyes, it becomes delightful and fun.””

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