By Gabby Esposito, Student Written Communications Assistant
During their final semester as UConn, Megan Hurley and Marin Bolko decided to do something different for the final project they would do as undergraduates. Due to COVID-19, their final year was anything but normal and nothing UConn had experienced before, so the mission to redesign the traditional senior souvenir was a fitting project.
The classic souvenir is a brick casting which reads ‘UCONN.’ Hurley and Bolko decided that they wanted to transform this version into a sand casted brick which would instead read ‘UCONN MSE ‘21.’ This brick would be handed out to all MSE graduating seniors.
Hurley and Bolko had taken Professor Harold Brody’s Alloy Casting course the year prior which was when the project commenced. At the time, Brody had suggested a project to Hurley and Bolko which would involve comparing sand casting to investment casting of the souvenirs based on quality of the cast and efficiency of production.
The project, like the bricks before sanding, was not a smooth process. Difficulties began not long after the project’s idea came to light, when the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the process. According to Bolko, the bricks were supposed to be for the MSE graduating class of 2020. Unable to continue the necessary in-person work, Hurley and Bolko put the project on hold.
However, instead of letting the project completely end, Hurley and Bolko picked up their work for the 2021 seniors; the class that they would also be graduating alongside.
Aside from the pandemic, Bolko and Hurley admit they confronted other obstacles throughout the project’s process. The design went through three iterations before the final design was successfully tested and put into production.
Despite any difficulties, the project became a success and the moments of frustration left Bolko and Hurley with more experience. “Things won’t go the way you planned, expect something to go wrong the first time you do something new,” the two wrote in their project summary.
They finished making plaques just in time for the School of Engineering commencement ceremony. The souvenir plaques could not be distributed in the typical way to MSE graduates in Rentschler Field because of pandemic health precautions. Instead, graduates drove to a nearby parking lot near the field before the ceremony where Hurley, Professor Brody, and MSE Department Head Professor Bryan Huey waited to distribute plaques and to congratulate the 2021 MSE graduates.
Ultimately, the impact of the project will last beyond the brick itself. “Marin and Megan set what I expect to be a tradition for MSE majors: to design, fabricate, and distribute UConn-MSE plaques to the graduating class. We can expect each graduating class will improve on the prior year’s design; and like Megan and Marin they will learn that making things is fun and that manufacturing is both art and science,” Brody says.
This coming fall (with souvenirs in hand), Hurley will be entering the PhD program in MSE at the University of Florida and Bolko will be joining Haartz Corporation in Acton, Mass. as a Process Engineer.