Military News

Monday, November 16, 2015

21st SW collaborates with UCCS design students

by Rob Bussard
21st Wing Public Affairs

11/16/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With today's shrinking budgets and lack of resources, a timely and unequaled opportunity between Peterson Air Force Base and the local Colorado Springs community has grown.

Nine hopeful University of Colorado Colorado Springs visual art students submitted sculpture ideas to 21st Space Wing leadership Nov. 3 as part of a unique partnership to design a replacement for the empty pedestal of the now defunct Peterson AFB east gate marquee.

"We wanted to get away from your typical plaque on a rock," said Matt Hamilton, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron facilities excellence architect. "A sculpture that depicts the space command mission might do well."

With no sculptors on his facilities excellence team, he said he thought of using the community as a resource and had the idea that it be great if the base could partner with some sculpture students who planned on doing this for a living'

With that in mind, Hamilton called UCCS visual arts professor Matt Barton to discuss the idea of engaging students in a project to design a replacement for the marquee.

"This is not a money-changing-hands kind of thing," Hamilton said to Barton. "It'll help your students get some real-world experience and also give us some great ideas to move forward with."

Barton said he believed this would be a hugely beneficial learning experience for his students and a good career résumé portfolio piece for them. It was an opportunity not to be missed.

This was an opportunity to give them an expericnce they wouldn't get elsewhere, Barton said.

"If they've done something like this along the way, when they graduate there are opportunities that come up where they can show a completed public work."

Hamilton said he initially provided Barton's team of students with a handbook describing the history and timeline of Peterson and the 21st SW, which they used to design and create various illustrations and models. Many students also used the 21st SW shield colors of yellow, blue and red in their work.

Representing Peterson AFB leadership, the Col. Reginald Ash, 21st Mission Support Group commander and several Peterson AFB facilities architects went on the trip to the visual arts sculpture department on the UCCS campus. There they attended a presentation by the students on their individual design concepts.

Concepts ranged widely from painted or powder coated metals to glass and brushed aluminum. Lighting was also considered, mostly solar powered types.

Some students felt an interactive piece would be of value to viewers while others created an abstract. One student's vision was to have an actual outdoor room-like structure that would blend in with the stars at night.

The students attempted to create their designs in such a way to describe the 21st SW mission or Air Force core values.

"The goal of my sculpture is to align the work with the Airmen's Creed using light, color and form," said sculpture student Su Cho.

Ash and the 21st CES architects reviewed all the student's individual works and asked questions to ensure they understood what each student's vision represented. He was impressed.

"Had my people brought me any single one of these and said 'hey boss, here's what we picked,' I would have said 'well that's great, spot on,'" said Ash. "From my perspective it's all really great work and I'll be looking where I can put more of these things on the base."

After the presentation, Barton offered to send copies of all student work for review by Col. Douglas A. Schiess, 21st SW Commander, who may decide to pick one of the designs to place on the old marquee's pedestal.

Barton said he hopes the partnership continues even if no design is selected, and that future students are given more opportunities like this.

If one of the designs is selected and funded, that student will have designed a legacy sculpture on a very important asset to the Air Force as well as the city of Colorado Springs - Peterson Air Force Base.

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