NAIT Welder instructors create 140-kilogram metal ookpik

Since last fall, a massive metal Ook has watched over the lobby of NAIT's Souch Campus, home of the Welder program.

The metal ookpik includes 357 individual wing and tail feathers.The two-metre (six-foot), 140-kilogram (300-pound) statue sits perched atop a welded tree stump with its wings stretched out about 1.2 metres (four feet). Instructors Paulo Ferreira (Welder '05, below left) and Leah Applejohn (Welder '09, right) spent 150 hours over several months creating this version of the polytechnic's mascot.

"The goal was to showcase welding's versatility and provide an example of its use outside of the industrial scope," says Chris Manning (Welder '94). The Welder program chair challenged the two instructors to create the piece in time for October's Open House, where students often ask where welding can take them.

"There's more to welding than what meets the eye," says Applejohn, who loves the artistic side of the trade.

"It's nice to show students that welding is more than just putting pipes together and running fuel through them," adds Ferreira.

The instructors split the labour. Applejohn worked on much of the detail and Ferreira did the "smashing, bashing and blacksmith-shaping."

Most of the statue - including the 357 individual feathers in the wings and tail - is composed of iron scraps from the classroom. Its eyes are glass. The Machinist program provided a stainless steel NAIT logo and the Auto Body Technician program applied a clear protective coat to prevent rust.

"We are pretty proud of this," Applejohn says. "We aren't even modest. It's pretty awesome."

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