Street Talk

Street Talk: The fountain of youth

Washington comes to GR.

August 25, 2017
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Grand Valley State University engineering students have completed their senior project on an iconic tourist draw in Grand Haven.

Grand Haven’s well-known musical fountain now will feature new moving water formations, thanks to the students who worked on upgrades.

This summer, Allie Graff, Luke Hubbard, Brett Bunton, Brett Johnson and Jordan Tatchin designed and built two new water features. The fountain now includes helix and wave-shaped water formations, in addition to its two original features — back and forth sweeps and up and down movements.

The new features will debut at the fountain’s last show of the season, scheduled for 8 p.m., Sept. 16.

Terry Stevens, affiliate professor in the School of Engineering, said the fountain’s water features had not been updated since it was installed in 1963.

“The city wanted to see something new,” he said.

The project began in January. Students spent the winter semester researching and designing the features; they built, tested and installed the new equipment during the spring and summer semesters. The group started with prototypes, then custom-built a second design that involved many pieces that had to be installed on the fountain. The wave feature includes 50 nozzles, for example.

Graff, who graduated in early August, and her other team members presented the new features to members of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain Committee in July and August.

“The committee was very happy with the height and overall aesthetic the helix and wave features produced, especially when performed with the lighting,” she said.

Dan Vivian, facilities manager for the city of Grand Haven, said he is impressed with the upgrades.

“The fountain is loved by both residents and visitors,” he said. “A lot of people have grown up with the fountain. It’s part of the landscape here.”

Stevens is a member of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain Committee and installed the fountain’s initial industrial control system in 1983. He has led several student projects to retrofit and update the historic fountain in 2013 and 2014.

Built in 1963, the choreographed musical fountain performs nightly at dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day, except in May and September, when it plays only on weekends.

A YouTube video tracking behind-the-scenes views of the control room and work on the fountain is online at bit.ly/GH-musical-fountain.

Wheels of fortune

Experience Grand Rapids, in partnership with My City Bikes, launched an app to help visitors access the city's best local attractions and nearby communities on two wheels. The new bike amenities include a comprehensive bike map with local road, recreational and mountain biking opportunities, plus two self-guided bicycle day tours. Local bike maps and self-guided tours are available online at experiencegr.com/biking or in the free My City Bikes Grand Rapids mobile app.

Recommendations from the Destination Asset Study released in December 2016 showed Grand Rapids has an opportunity to leverage outdoor recreation to increase travel to the area. Due to these findings, Experience Grand Rapids wanted to further promote and organize the biking scene, which led to the partnership with My City Bikes and the development of two self-guided bicycle day tours.

The “West Side to Uptown” Day Tour is a 9-mile loop that starts and finishes at John Ball Zoo. The day tour features a beginner-friendly route with destinations including the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, Rosa Parks Circle, Donkey Taqueria, New Holland Knickerbocker and more.

The “Stops Along the White Pine Trail” Day Tour is a build-your-own adventure along Michigan’s second-longest rail-trail. Beginning at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids, users can make the 6-mile round trip ride to Comstock Park, the 21-mile round trip ride to Rockford, or the 35-mile round trip to Cedar Springs. The tour features highlights like Elk Brewing and the Rockford Dam Overlook at every stop along the way.

Closing the gap

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta joined Gov. Rick Snyder at Grand Rapids Community College last week, where they discussed the importance of apprenticeships before touring the third and fourth floors of the college’s Peter and Pat Cook Academic Hall.

The visit came as part of a series of tours that Snyder and Acosta are conducting focused on manufacturing and medical apprenticeships.

“Michigan is a national leader in working to close the career awareness gap, and I was very proud to have Secretary Acosta here for the day, seeing facilities such as Grand Rapids Community College that supply the growing workforce demand for the outstanding hospitals and health care facilities in West Michigan,” Snyder said. “I look forward to a productive working relationship with Secretary Acosta on continuing to connect employers with education, so students can learn about all of their career options early on, with plenty of time to choose the best path for their future.”

The third and fourth floors of GRCC’s Cook Academic Hall feature classroom and laboratory instruction spaces for the dental, medical assisting, nursing and radiologic technology programs. Built in 1970, these spaces were two of four floors in the building that were included in a two-phase renovation made possible, in part, by $5 million in capital outlay funds.

“It is a great day when we can share what we do at GRCC,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “We were thrilled to welcome the governor and secretary of labor, along with our colleagues at West Michigan Works!, for a discussion about our programs, and what’s important in our community, state and nation with regard to skilled labor demands.”

Amy Koning, dean of GRCC’s School of Workforce Development, added these programs highlight some of the many ways in which the college is providing the educational resources to help fill West Michigan’s demand for skilled labor.

“In addition to our programs housed in Cook Academic Hall, GRCC has seen dynamic growth in its apprenticeship programs during the past six years,” she said.

She said there has been a 342 percent growth in GRCC apprentices — from 96 in 2010 to 424 in 2016. This number does not include construction electrical apprentices, who numbered 630 during the 2016-17 academic year, Koning said. The college offers apprenticeship programs in construction trade electrical, information technology, manufacturing and medical assisting. More than 545 companies have partnered with GRCC apprenticeship programs.

Koning noted the college’s medical assistant apprenticeship program is the first in the nation to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. GRCC, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, West Michigan Works!, Mercy Health, Cherry Health, Spectrum Health, Montcalm Community College and Muskegon Community College worked together to launch the program in January 2016. Its second cohort graduated in July 2017.

The visit by Acosta and Snyder is the second GRCC has hosted this summer to showcase its programs. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also toured the college’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, as well as the Leslie E. Tassell Michigan Technical Education Center. At Tassell M-TEC, DeVos spoke with faculty and students from program instruction areas, including automotive, computer support technician, construction trades, machinist/CNC technician and welding.

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