SAIT’s Beakerhead Society is ‘cooking up’ something new for next year’s edition of Beakerhead.
For the past two years, the society, which is made up of students in the mechanical engineering programs at SAIT, has designed and built a Pi Bike for the annual autumn celebration of science and art.
But Pi is being retired, and will be replaced by a new project for 2019, according to the head of the society.
“The Pi is essentially going to be finished after this year,” said Curt MacDonald, a second-year mechanical engineering technology (MET) student and SAIT Beakerhead Society President.
The Pi, which refers to the mathematical constant used on many math formulas, was originally built for Beakerhead 2017 but was upgraded for the events this year.
The original Pi was constructed of a tricycle mounted inside a body in the shape of a piece of pie made of corrugated cardboard and clear PVC pipes.
This year, a series of vacuum-formed LED-lighted cherries were added to the exterior, along with a glowing pi symbol embossed on the crust.
“I loved the more polished look and extra lighting,” said Mary Anne Moser, president and co-founder of Beakerhead.
“It made it come alive and was even more delightful.”
Gerry Moritz, another second-year MET student and member of the SAIT Beakerhead Society, explained that original the bike has been completely rejuvenated.
“[It is] just a shell of what it (was),” said Moritz.
“Being involved in the Beakerhead project from the beginning of the year, we were essentially able to do product testing for every area of the SAIT Pi,” MacDonald said.
The proposal for the third installment of the Pi states certain adjustments must be done to make the bike more durable, more accessible to ride, easier to ride, and more resistant to cold and harsh conditions.
“For the top and the sides we have decided to make them out of high density foam with a resin coating to make each piece durable. This was because weather played an issue in the 2018 version of the Pi,” explained MacDonald
The final version of the Pi will be designed and made for the Capstone Project for the MET class, which will be complete around April next year.
The Capstone Project is a simulation of real-life projects, involving students in projects from start to finish, while having them deal with industry partners, group-working, and project management.
“The Beakerhead club is in its infancy and deciding on a few different projects to create,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald explained that they had received funding to create something “interactive” for Beakerhead 2019.
Originally, they had conceived the idea of a large-scale version of the popular 1980’s toy Lite-Brite, but decided not to proceed when they realized the new Calgary Public Library had a very similar installation.
“Eventually the idea of a fidget cube was brought up by one of the members,” said MacDonald, adding that the four sides would be interactive much like a real fidget cube.
The SAIT Beakerhead Society was formed through SAITSA last year and continues through this year with a small group of students and teachers involved.
“I’d love to see students from across campus, regardless of discipline, to get the club going year after year,” said Greg Ball, adding that a collaboration with the ACAD would be beneficial for the group.
Ball has been a SAIT instructor for 10 years in the MET program and currently teaches engineering concepts and product design. He’s one of the instructors involved with the SAIT Beakerhead Society.
“I want to see it flourish. I would like to see things become bigger and better and more involved with the different communities around SAIT,” said MacDonald, also stating that it gives students “a more artistic take on building.”
Moser stated they love seeing students produce projects demonstrating applied science and engineering combined with creativity.
It prepares students for the world of work by providing them with a level of experience, and even helps to build happy communities.
“It is one thing to learn about a concept in a textbook. It is another to apply that knowledge,” said Moser.
“That’s when the learning really kicks in.”
Glowing Pi: Curt MacDonald, a second-year MET student at SAIT, sits in the SAIT Pi Bike in their design class located in the Thomas Riley Building in Calgary on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Though the Pi Bike may not be us for 2019 Beakerhead it will see upgrades for the Capstone Project. (Photo by Nicholas MacPhail/SAIT)