ME Students Create Light Show for Santa’s Playland
DANIEL PEREZ | January 07, 2009
Western Playland received a winter makeover courtesy of three UTEP mechanical engineering students and the dazzling results were on display daily at “Santa’s Playland” through Dec. 23.
The students – Isaiah Hall, Nadia Richards and Adrian Rosado – created an impressive controlled light show that center’s around the amusement parks train station that was redubbed “The Polar Express” for the holiday.
About 5,000 lights using enough electricity to power 10 average homes flashed to the catchy tunes of the Trans-SiberianOrchestra every half hour starting at 5 p.m. at the 25-acre playground, 1249 Futurity Drive in Sunland Park, N.M.
“It’s a rollercoaster for the eyes,” said 24-year-old Hall, who spent most of the fall semester working on this untraditional senior design project that involved computer science and electrical engineering. The trio graduated from UTEP Dec. 13.
The group designed the project with input from Western Playland President Patrick Thomson and Brad Dubow, general manager of radio stations KLAQ-FM (95.5), KSII-FM (93.1) and KROD-AM (600).
Thomson and Dubow initiated the idea and discussed the requirements with UTEP’s Noe Vargas Hernandez, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, to see if it could work.
Vargas selected Hall, Richards and Rosado because they were excellent, creative students.
“I needed the best because this project had a certain amount of uncertainty,” he said. “They delivered a complete, high-quality product.”
The students spent about 200 hours synchronizing the light show and another 90 hours setting up the lights. They came in under their $5,000 budget because of donations from Thomson and Dubow, and deals provided by HB Electronics, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse and Wal-Mart. The project is valued at around $10,000.
The hope is that people will see the show and that more UTEP students will help it grow in the years to come, Thomson said.