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Hokie Bird Animatronic

The goal of this project is to create an animatronic figure of our school’s mascot, the hokie bird. The history of animatronics begins with theme parks, where these mechanical puppets are used as characters in dark rides, attractions, and shows to help create immersion and tell enchanting stories. Animatronic puppets have also been used in film and television for decades as seen in the movies Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurrasic Park to name a few. Our goal is to continue the work and innovation done in the realm of animatronics by amplifying the arts, as well as creating interactive experiences for the community. We plan to explore different sculptural techniques with materials like foam, fabric, silicone, PLA/ABS, and wood to find a suitable fabrication method for the outer shell of the figure. Additionally, finishing techniques like painting, sanding, polishing, engraving, dyeing, and acetone smoothing may be explored to add texture, depth, and interest. In engaging the community, we also plan to create a new type of animatronic that involves interaction, whether that be through technology and machine learning, or the theming of the project itself to different areas around the Virginia Tech campus (like Burrus Hall, Lane Stadium, the Drillfield, etc.) Overall this project aims to blend engineering and the arts to create an interactive end product that can be appreciated by artists and engineers alike.