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Michelle Phillips ’14 Builds Animatronic Wolf Mascot, on Display in Hunt Library

Visitors to the Hunt Library will notice there’s a new wolf at NC State, but this one might look a little different than Mr. or Mrs. Wuf.

The Timber-Wolf, the finished product of Michelle Phillips and Kevin Young, both seniors in mechanical engineering, will be housed in the Hunt Library Technology Showcase room.

The Timber-Wolf designers, Michelle Phillips ’14 and Kevin Young – Photo © NC State Libraries

The Timber-Wolf designers, Michelle Phillips ’14 and Kevin Young – Photo © NC State Libraries

It stands at about two-and-a-half-feet tall and is about four feet from nose to tail, Young said.

Constructed from treated wood, the Timber-Wolf will be able to raise its head, open its jaw in a howling motion and raise its ears.

“However, since the Timber-Wolf will be in a library, the howling will have to be silent,” Young said.

Phillips and Young completed the wolf as part of their capstone project as members of the University Honors Program. The team received a portion of their project funding from a Park Enrichment Grant, which Phillips was awarded in November 2013.

Phillips said the project stemmed from her interest in amusement parks, and after working at Universal Studios last summer, she was inspired to display the marriage between engineering and amusement parks for students to appreciate.

“Last summer I interned with Universal Studios, where I was working on the new Harry Potter expansion, but I didn’t really get to design,” Phillips said. “So the idea was to create a student project and bring the amusement industry to NC State. The natural choice was a wolf. Kevin is really interested in control systems and dynamics research. This project really brought together both of our interests.”

Phillips and Young said they began with a four-inch children’s toy as a model of the wolf and used 3-D scanning software to scale the model to its actual size.

“A big part of our project was possible because of Hunt Library’s Makerspace, where we were able to conduct the 3-D scanning process,” Phillips said.

Michelle Phillips ’14 and Kevin Young with their completed Timber-Wolf – Photo by Elizabeth Davis © The Technician

Michelle Phillips ’14 and Kevin Young with their completed Timber-Wolf – Photo by Elizabeth Davis © The Technician

The mechanics of the Wolf is similar to a piston in a car attached to a motor, and all of those motors are controlled by a tiny processor, Phillips said.

Phillips said because Hunt Library emphasizes human-technology interaction, she hopes the installation of the Timber-Wolf will not only inspire mechanical engineers but reach out to students of all majors.

After graduation Phillips will join Universal Studios as an amusement ride engineer.

This story was adapted from an article by Ravi Chittilla, Assistant News Editor, which appeared in the April 22, 2014 edition of NC State’s The Technician.

posted 2014.04.26