ARLINGTON – The city soon will roll out artistic metal bike racks downtown that were designed by inventive high school students and precision finished by an Arlington aerospace manufacturer.
“The bike racks will foster a welcoming and positive atmosphere for locals, visitors downtown and riders off the Centennial Trail,” said teacher Collin Nelson, whose engineering and welding class students took on the project after a meeting with the Mayor Barb Tolbert at the start of the school year.
The mayor said the city wanted bike racks in front of businesses mostly along Olympic Avenue that would not impede walkers. She asked them to design the racks around Arlington themes, then give presentations to defend their concepts as if they were contracting with the city.
Three of the 14 selected designs were unveiled to the mayor and City Council Monday, depicting ducks in flight, butterflies and a logging truck.
“They’re unusual pieces of art,” said Ian Seward, one of the students.
He explained that they are called shadow bike racks because they cast a shadow on the ground of the shape cut into the metal. They used computer-aided design software to capture their ideas.
Ian drew his theme from a favorite childhood memory in Arlington, depicting two ducks in flight.
“I lived right next to the Gleneagle pond, and when I was young, me and my dad and mom would go down there a lot, hang out, throw bread and feed the ducks.”
He said his design also calls to mind the beauty of the local environment and wildlife habitat. He’s going to powder-coat his bike rack green.
Hunter Urionaguena’s theme centered around the timber industry, with the tail end of a logging truck hauling raw logs.
“I decided to do a log truck because it is a big part of my family, in Arlington and in California,” Hunter said. “And, (logging) basically formed the town.”
Sadie Hollingsworth chose an image of two butterflies that serve as a symbol metaphor for the Oso landslide, and how the resilient communities of Oso, Darrington and Arlington persevered in the aftermath of tragedy.
“Butterflies symbolize hope, endurance, change and life – all things that Arlington needed and exemplified after the slide,” Sadie wrote in her presentation.
Tolbert said she was impressed with the students’ take on the project. It was just as she envisioned.
“The kids were so into the designs,” she said. “They explained the image they had in mind and how it connected to Arlington, and I love that they’re excited to have a legacy on the street in their hometown.”
It became clear early in the planning that Nelson’s equipment at the high school was incapable of properly cutting the designs for the bike racks, so he went to experts in the local aerospace manufacturing industry for help.
Universal Aerospace jumped at the opportunity, said Jason Luckie, vice president of operations. They agreed to cut out the designs with their precision manufacturing equipment including an abrasive waterjet tool that uses a high-pressure stream of water to penetrate metal for making airplane parts.
“We always want to support the community especially when we can enrich the students for the next generation,” Luckie said.
The racks have been delivered to the school. They weigh about 40 pounds each, and the edges are smooth to the touch. Now machinists are working on the name plates and bases that the students will weld to the bike racks, identifying the student who designed each of them. City workers will install the final product.
Nelson said Universal employees were almost having more fun than the kids, and Luckie agreed.
“We hope students took away we’re very passionate about aerospace manufacturing,” Luckie said. The company manufactures interiors, first class fixtures, seating, ballistic doors and other parts for Boeing and Airbus planes.
“We were able to take the students on a tour of our facility, which was really a cherry on top for us to interact one on one with them,” Luckie said. He told them that Universal Aerospace and other local manufacturers offer good stable jobs in the students’ hometown, when they’re ready to join the workforce.
“We’re focused on the people component, the right attitude. We’ll help them develop skills to be a world-class machinist,” Luckie said. “We hope Arlington students will be our next employees.”
Sarah Lopez, community revitalization project manager, said she anticipates the racks will be installed in late June.
Lopez said projects such as the bike racks and community garden have been great ways to connect with the school district, and it opens the door for future joint efforts.
“These projects benefit the whole community,” she said. “We see the high school’s equipment and what their students are capable of. Just seeing the students involved is great.”
Ian, Hunter and Sadie entered the bike rack project in the state SkillsUSA competition, and they took second place. The team will compete in nationals next month in Louisville, Ky.