On the fast track

Lunar Lemon Racing

The Lunar Lemon van competes in the “24 Hours of LeMons” race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Students in Berry’s creative technologies program are always looking for a challenge, so when the opportunity came to test their mettle in an endurance race for cars costing $500 or less, they couldn’t resist.

The result was the “Lunar Lemon,” a vintage Chevy Astro van purchased from Berry and fitted with wings and “rocket boosters” made of recycled materials. Its first outing didn’t quite go as planned – the vehicle failed to pass inspection on race day – but the student team led by Visiting Instructor Zane Cochran (with assistance from the Hatch Athens nonprofit group) was undeterred, working for 40 hours straight to get the Lunar Lemon ready for competition. Despite the late start, the Berry entry earned the “Eternal Optimist Award” from race judges after completing 95 laps (approximately 225 miles) without any mechanical issues, beating a number of teams that started a day earlier. Emboldened by the experience, the team is already planning another outing April 30.

Students Fixing Van

Students Jacob Ramsey and Chris Whitmire work on the interior of the Lunar Lemon.

Such hard work and resourcefulness are hallmarks of Berry’s groundbreaking creative technologies (CRT) major, the first undergraduate degree program of its type. Combining business, computing, engineering, manufacturing and hands-on design, the program provides students very real opportunities to give physical form to their most imaginative thoughts. Since its 2014 launch, CRT’s mix of high-tech creative tools and do-it-yourself ingenuity has become quite the draw for students, with 29 now majoring in creative technologies and others enhancing their Berry experience through classes such as vehicle prototyping and advanced robotics – so many, in fact, that the program’s HackBerry Lab recently moved into a new space near the Emery Barns.

“The projects I’ve done in creative technologies have taught me problem-solving strategies and given me mechanical experience,” said sophomore Jacob Ramsey, a management major and creative technologies minor. “But they also let my imagination have free rein.”

Rome News-Tribune: HackBerry Lab spurs student ingenuity

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior student writer

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