The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

January 26, 2014

PSU student rushes to craft bottle openers for Grammy gift bags

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pittsburg State University senior Tyler Dietzschold has spent long days at the technology center, crafting items that will soon be in the hands of Grammy-nominated artists.

The nominees, including stars such as Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Kelly Clarkson, receive gift bags during the award show, which will air at 7 p.m. tonight on CBS. This year, the bags will include a metal bottle opener with the Grammy logo on one side. And when they flip it over, they'll see the Pitt State Gorilla logo.

Dietzschold spearheaded the last-minute project to make 250 bottle openers using equipment at the university's technology center.

"It's kind of strange to think about," Dietzschold said, adding he likes knowing something he made in the small town of Pittsburg will be sent to Hollywood.

The opportunity came when Rachel Ropp, wife of PSU graduate Trenton Ropp, was invited to showcase her furniture restoration business at the Grammy Awards vendor exhibit. As a vendor, she had the opporunity to include an item in the gift bags.

Ropp contacted Russ Rosmait, a professor of engineering technology, to see if anyone at the technology center could help.

The university has taken on projects before, Rosmait said, but nothing so last minute.

It was during finals week in December when Dietzschold began making the bottle openers. Rosmait thought they wouldn't be able to meet deadline -- Jan. 20 -- but Dietzschold was determined to make it happen.

"I really couldn't imagine saying no to something like this," Dietzschold said, who loves country music. Country artists who have been nominated for a Grammy this year include Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Dietzschold crammed more than two months of work into less than a month, sometimes spending close to 12 hours a day in the technology center while also juggling classes.

But the experience has taught him time management, which Dietzschold said will be important when he starts his career at General Motors after graduation in May.

Dietzschold recruited a few other students to help him when they could. Rosmait said seeing his students put everything they've learned to use has been one of the most rewarding parts of the project.

"They're making something happen," Rosmait said. "And you know they'll be successful."

Not only was Dietzschold on a deadline, but the time-sensitive process of creating the bottle openers added to the stress level.

The bottle openers were made using a new wax injection machine recently donated to the university by MPI -- a company that specializes in wax-room equipment. Dietzschold said the steps taken to make the bottle openers is called the lost-wax process, and there are 10 openers on each "tree."

"The beginning of it, you have to start with a wax mold," he said. "We use a mold that we make, and (the machine) injects wax into that mold, into the cavity that we've created, and it makes a model of what we're going to end up with."

Then a shell is made; the wax is melted out and the aluminum is poured in.

"And that's how we got our finished aluminum part," he said.

In the last several days of the project, he spent his time grinding away excess metal and polishing the bottle openers.

"You have to wait for one thing to be done before you do the next, and you can't really rush anything," he said.

Rosmait said the extra 50 bottle openers came in handy when things went wrong.

"He accidentally dropped two and they broke, but luckily they were two extra molds that we had for something else," Rosmait said. "Man, that was luck."

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