A project between engineers, artists and makers will help launch the grand opening of Nebraska Innovation Campus.
Answering the call of Chancellor Harvey Perlman, members of the UNL Maker Club are using Nebraska Innovation Studio to design and build a kinetic sculpture that will — with a Jacob’s ladder spark — cut a grand opening ribbon during a private, Oct. 8 celebration at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s new public/private research campus.
The project reflects the purpose of Nebraska Innovation Studio, which is a NIC-based maker space designed to be a creative and collaborative hub that allows individuals to team up and develop projects that solve problems. The team building the ribbon-cutting sculpture includes 10 UNL students with backgrounds in engineering and graphic design, a campus staff employee and three members of the public.
“The UNL Maker Club was approached by the chancellor’s office to come up with a ribbon cutting machine,” said Liana Owad, coordinator of Innovation Studio. “It seemed like the perfect challenge because the club is a group of students, faculty, staff, as well as community members who are interested in any type of making.”
From a series of meetings, club members developed various ribbon cutting machine designs. Gregg Johnson, a community member of the club, designed the winning concept.
“The one I came up with was based on the logo for Innovation Campus,” Johnson said. “I divided it into three pieces that rotate and can become other things — like a rocket ship or even an eye.”
The three rotating logo pieces feature designs created by seven fine art graduate students and Owad, a UNL graduate who earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. Art disciplines represented include drawing/painting, printmaking, ceramics and photography.
Three UNL engineering students — studying electrical and mechanical engineering — developed the electronics that allow the sculpture to rotate and generate the Jacob’s ladder spark.
“Working with other artists and engineers in this space has been invaluable,” said Erin Schoenbeck, a graduate student in painting and drawing. “It’ll be interesting to see all these pieces come together into the final project.”
Owad said the UNL Maker Club plans to put the rotating sculpture on display at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
The NIC grand opening continues with public events on Oct. 9. They include campus tours (starting at 4 p.m.) and a Nebraska Alumni Association “Football Friday” event at 5 p.m.
For more information on Nebraska Innovation Campus and Nebraska Innovation Studio, click here.