ITC Engineering Students Design Light Display for Zoo Holiday Event

     Published on 11/29/21   Tagged under:    District News    Corcoran High School    ITC   

This is a photo of four students gathered around a table looking at a steel cutout of an animal they designed for a light display at the Zoo.If you attend this year’s Holiday Nights event at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, you’ll also be enjoying the craftsmanship of ITC engineering students – and their peers in the Corcoran welding program!
11th grade Mechanical and Electrical Technology P-TECH students worked in conjunction with zoo staff to design large-scale steel light displays that will be part of the zoo’s festive winter wonderland transformation. They designed and built large lighted pieces – all for an ‘Under the Sea’ display. The students determined the theme and lighting source to be used, taking into account Syracuse weather – making sure the size and stability of their creations would stand in the event of snow, rain, and wind.
Ultimately, the students worked in groups to create a shark, starfish, stingray, killer whale, dolphin, crab, sea turtle and more – all comprising a 64 foot long exhibit that will look like a giant aquarium!
“It’s exciting to know that my work is on display at the zoo,” junior Van Thawng, who helped create the killer whale, decked out with a winter wreath, shared. “I’ve never been to the zoo, but I want to go with my family to show them what I’ve been doing this year in class. I’m looking forward to doing more projects like this!”
After meeting with zoo executives to share their vision, students used the ITC laser engraver to cut their designs on a small scale. Once approved, the designs were shared with Corcoran welding students, who used their plasma laser cutter to cut out all the animal shapes from steel. The Corcoran students – led by instructor Jose Ocasio – also helped troubleshoot some software incompatibility issues in order to allow the shapes to be cut out.

Friends of the Zoo Executive Director Carrie Large said the P-TECH partnership is the perfect example of the group’s goal to forge relationships between the zoo and the surrounding community that benefit the community and the zoo’s conservation education mission.
“One of our key missions is to help inspire conservation-minded youth to lead for tomorrow,” Large said. “With this project, 40 aspiring engineering students formed eight teams that each designed a different marine animal for our Holiday Nights display. They had to use teamwork, communication skills, STEM skills and project-based learning with tools like AutoCAD to create large-scale LED images of sea creatures. In the process, they learned about their chosen animals, including killer whales, sharks, stingrays and starfish, and how these creatures are threatened by problems like global warming. That is exactly what our zoo is trying to accomplish every day.”
Large said seeing the students’ designs and their enthusiasm to tackle the project makes Holiday Nights especially meaningful for the zoo.
“Over the six nights of Holiday Nights at the zoo, these students’ amazing work will be seen by thousands of people and bring holiday cheer to our community while also creating excitement around animals and conservation,” she said. “We can’t think of a better project to kick off what we hope will be an annual tradition at the zoo.”
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo “Holiday Nights” event will run every Friday and Saturday night in December, starting Friday, December 3rd and through Friday, December 24th. To purchase tickets, visit