VMI professor builds turtle sculpture
LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) – A professor at the Virginia Military Institute has accepted an art commission from a curatorial group, but he is not an artist. Rather, it is a mechanical engineering professor who works with volunteer cadets to weld a metal sculpture of sea turtles who will visit Rockbridge County to educate on pollution and marine life.
In the workshop, the main lines are already emerging: a giant sea turtle, swimming in the ocean.
When finished, the frame covered with a metal cage, it will be filled with plastic waste.
“The intention is to make the skin somehow invisible,” said VMI engineering professor Col. Jay Sullivan, “and then when it fills up with plastic waste you have like your milk cartons and all. Kinds of, you I know, shopping bags, stuff, it’s gonna take on that kind of a pale white color. You wouldn’t think it would be that special, but it kind of shows. It has a lot of visual impact. . “
But it must first be assembled, one weld at a time.
“It’s not a class,” Sullivan said. “We kind of have to adapt, a little bit of time here, a little time there. “
“It was a pleasure, just to be able to have the little time just to be able to come here,” said Cadet Kevin Dougherty, “as a Rat in particular.”
Cadets like Dougherty are taking advantage of the project to hone their welding skills.
“Frankly, they do a better job of welding than I do,” Sullivan admitted.
“To be able to come here and get some hands-on experience with welding and metal bending and doing all of that,” said Dougherty, “it’s really fun.”
With the bonus of making a tool to help educate children about pollution.
“Definitely a real problem in society, where there is garbage everywhere,” said Dougherty, who lives in Virginia Beach, “and just knowing that turtles and all those other ocean animals are affected m sort of attracted to this.
“I think it will be good when this is done,” Sullivan said. “I hope. I mean, if he doesn’t, I guess he will come and live in my backyard.
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