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timber frame

A Not So Typical Internship Story

A Not So Typical Internship Story

This isn't your typical internship story. There were no coffee runs, no taking notes, and no running errands. There's two parts to our story and they are both very different. For seven weeks our team worked on building an aquaponics system for Spark-Y at their new location in the Casket Arts Building.

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The first part of our internship started with a well organized plan of how we would accomplish all of our goals in about a month. All of us felt very confident that we knew exactly what we got ourselves into. You guessed it, we were wrong.

We began with re-organizing the storage closet and finding all your typical necessities such as a topsy turvy tomato plant or a vintage indoor watering hose that no longer exists anywhere. Our next challenge was measuring and weighing 20 bluegills. The weighing and measuring only caused one physical injury, but trying to catch the last fish caused us all mental injury, mostly because that last fish turned out to be three. After our adventure with the fish that left us smelling like a lake, we got in touch with our green side and started growing microgreens, which unlike the rest of our internship, came with no surprises.

Next came the hard part...

...For the past four weeks, our team of 4 have literally put blood, sweat and maybe a few tears into building a aquaponic system that is 2,000 plus pounds. To make it even harder, we built it using timber framing.

If you're anything like the majority of people, you probably don't know what timber framing is. Timber framing is a way to build a structure without using metal materials such as nails or screws. It's more or less the grown up version of Lincoln Logs.

For about four weeks our team worked to create this massive structure with no background in woodworking. Thank goodness for Sam and Eddie there to guide us throughout the whole experience. Most of our time during those four weeks was spent chiseling. Chiseling out deep holes, chiseling to make the wood smooth, chiseling to make an end piece smaller, chiseling more when the wood wouldn't fit together. That's a whole lot of chiseling and I didn’t even bother to mention half of it. After three weeks of chiseling, sawing and slicking, our team proudly has the most toned arms and can finally see our hard work put together.

Next, we had to make sure all of it fit together and sadly it did not.

After another three days of testing and re-adjusting, the whole system was put together.

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Now to give you, the reader, a sense of just how heavy this system is, we needed 15 people to push it up, along with chains and pulleys. Taking less than five minutes to push this massive structure up, we realized it was pushing up against a water pipe. With all of our combined luck being used in that very moment, thankfully we didn't break the pipe and were able to move it an extreme four inches. Seeing what we have worked on for the past four weeks standing tall and strong was an amazing sight. Even while knowing how big each timber was, it looked larger than life and beautiful. As a team we look forward to finishing our project and sharing it at the open house as a completely functional system with everyone.

“My favorite part of the project was seeing our system standing in its permanent home, even though it was a struggle to get it there.” ~Megan

“Despite the timber framing process adding extra time and setbacks to our project I'm glad we decided to timber frame it. It made the whole experience even more unique compared to a typical internship.” ~Connor

“The best way I could describe timber framing to my friends and family was by saying that we basically built Noah’s Ark. It was truly an incredible experience.” ~Nick

“I’m very excited to see everyone's reaction during the open house. I tried to explain how big the system is to my family but realized it's much much bigger than I had described.” ~Abby