Art Department Uses Home-Grown Talent to Build New Structure for Ceramics Area
KINGSVILLE - June 24, 2010
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Industrial Management graduate student turns project into thesis
Texas A&M University-Kingsville graduate student Walker Cox had been searching for a way to give back to the university he credits with helping him pursue his graduate degree.
When he heard about the university’s art department’s effort to improve the program’s ceramics area with the addition of a structure to help protect the kiln—the outdoor brick oven used to bake ceramics—Cox saw his chance.
The industrial management graduate student quickly used his engineering skills, lessons learned in the classroom and decades of experience with steel furnishings to design a steel structure around the kiln. Thirteen months after he completed the initial design and after receiving approval for his design from university engineers, Cox got to work.
“I designed it, fabricated it and erected the structure myself,” Cox said.
After four weeks of work, phase one of the three-phase project—which includes the area immediately surrounding the kiln—is now 90 percent complete. Steel beams fashioned from material the art department had on hand and treated to withstand South Texas’s elements now surround the kiln. Cox continues to wait for tin—a material that, along with steel, will best stand up to the oven’s scorching heat. In addition to providing shade for students working in the area, the tin roof will also help protect the integrity of the brick kiln from rain.
“This structure is solid, rigid,” Cox said. “It’s guaranteed for 100 years.”
After the tin roof is assembled, Cox hopes to continue onto phases two and three of the design, which include similar structures for the rest of the outdoor ceramics area.
“He has done an incredible job,” said associate art professor Charles Wissinger, who added he hoped that similar projects across campus could be spearheaded by students needing practical experience.
Cox agrees that students should get the chance to practice what they learn in their coursework in hands-on ways that can benefit the university.
“Students are a valuable resource that the university can utilize,” he said.
While Cox has volunteered his time and work, the project has turned into a win-win—the art department has a new roof for the ceramics area, and Cox is one step close to a graduate degree, since he is using the project as the basis of his graduate thesis.
“Working on this project, I’ve been able to go through the processes required to do something like this,” Cox said. “I was able to take everything I learned in my classes and apply it here.”
The experience has served to inspire Cox to continue his education beyond the graduate level.
“I’m now thinking about setting up my master’s to support my doctorate,” he said.
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