NAIT students design children's float for K-Days parade
A teachable moment leads to a community connection through Northlands
When you’re watching Edmonton’s K-Days parade on July 21, keep an eye out for a castle on wheels.
The mobile fortress was designed by NAIT Engineering Design and Drafting Technology (EDDT) students specifically to help children from Edmonton area schools and the Make-a-Wish Foundation participate in festival activities.
Instructor Wes Puchyr (EDDT ’88), a frequent volunteer at Northlands, was asked by the organization to build a pair of floats for use in their biggest annual events – K-Days and the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR).
Rather than build 2 separate floats, Puchyr recognized a teachable moment and challenged his students to come up with a plan to build just one with 2 interchangeable facades.
A hands-on community connection
From the beginning, Puchyr saw the project as a way to connect his students with their community and to a tangible, finished product – in this case a 5-metre (16-foot) towable trailer.
“When it comes to drafting and design, students don’t often get to see the finished product,” Puchyr says. “With a project like this, the students get the drafting experience, can see and feel their work, and get to engage with their community. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved.”
Students (and now grads, class of ’17) William Rittenhouse, Tom Hollingworth and Nathan Uchacz (left to right in the photo) worked together on the designs over the final weeks of the 2017 winter term. They delivered their work to Puchyr as their final capstone project.
For Uchacz, it will mean a lot to see his work in the K-Days parade. “Tom, Will and myself went to visit the build. It was awesome to see what we had put on paper come to life,” he says.
In addition to involving his students in the design of the floats, Puchyr has donated his time in leading a team of volunteers to build the float as well.
“It’s nice to work on something that’s going to be in the K-Days parade,” says Puchyr, “but I hope most of all that the kids who get to take part – who get to be the stars of the show – really enjoy the experience. That’ll be the best part of this project, I think.”
In November, even more children will have the chance to experience the creativity of Puchyr and his students, when the K-Days castle will be converted to a chuck wagon for the CFR Rodeo Magic event. There, special needs children from Edmonton area schools will ride alongside the stars of the rodeo.