Becher creates unique class project

January 14, 2015
Becher

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville junior industrial technology management major Amanda Becher of Stratford, Wis., recently completed a unique stand-up paddleboard project for a synthetic and composite materials course during the fall semester.

The class, taught by Dr. Majid Tabrizi, required that all enrolled students complete a lab project that utilized the materials discussed during lecture.

“Tabrizi was really great in that he let us basically choose to make whatever we wanted,” said Becher. “Most of us did hand-layup of fiberglass to make personal things that we could use.”

Becher was the only woman in her section of the course; something that did not come as a surprise to her as industrial studies tends to be a male-dominated field. Nevertheless, she constructed one of the largest scale projects the professor has seen in this 1000 level course.

In the past, students have made canoes, kneeboards and snowboards. However, Becher wanted to do something different and chose to build a paddleboard.

Ironically, Becher has never gone paddleboarding but has always had an interest. She sees her journey in completing this project as a platform to get started.

“I live in central Wisconsin so paddleboarding is not necessarily a popular thing at all,” said Becher. “With that in mind, to get into it I would have to invest a lot of money. My idea was that by making a board myself I could cut the cost down and get the learning experience the professor was looking for.”

Becher began her project by researching websites for information about building surfboards, as the two processes are very similar. She also consulted the help of online blogs written by individuals who have made paddleboards in the past as a means to get some advice.

“The process of building was a lot of late nights and early mornings working by myself,” said Becher. “Labor alone was about 80 hours and that’s not including the times that I had to wait for things to dry.”

“I learned valuable life lessons from this project in that I am a pretty independent person and take pride in my work, but learned that asking for more help is beneficial."
—Amanda Becher

Becher’s process consisted of gluing polyiso form sheets together and cutting through them to create a rough shape of the board, which required a life-size template. Once she cut through the material of the 11-foot board she had to sand it, a task that Becher said was very time consuming.

Time was not the only obstacle standing in her way, as Becher also experienced difficulties in avoiding bubbles in the fiberglass with the resin. Along with this she had a limited number of resins that she was able to use as Tabrizi pointed out that certain ones would deteriorate the foam core of her board.

Despite these setbacks she received 100 percent on the project, something she takes great pride in as it sparked her realization of personal growth.

“I learned valuable life lessons from this project in that I am a pretty independent person and take pride in my work, but learned that asking for more help is beneficial,” said Becher. “In communicating with my professor it became clear that sometimes what you think is right may not be, or the idea you have can be improved.”

She also learned to become more open to constructive criticism and more aware of time management.

“There will likely be unexpected setbacks in anything you do, and you need to be able to handle them as they come and try to anticipate them,” said Becher.

As for her plans for the paddbleboard, she can’t wait to use it in a real life water situation. “I thought about taking the board over to the Pioneer Activity Center and asking if I could just toss it in the pool,” said Becher.

Written by: Shelby Le Duc, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, 608 342-1194, leducs@uwplatt.edu

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