Eiffel Tower brings departments closer

This Eiffel Tower replica, currently on display in the Oval, was lit for the first time Thursday.

This Eiffel Tower replica, currently on display in the Oval, was lit for the first time Thursday.

Departments that rarely coincide joined forces to bring a 14-foot Eiffel Tower to Missouri Southern’s campus.

Computer Assisted Manufactoring Technology, the physical plant and the theatre department all played a role in making Southern’s Eiffel Tower a reality.

“I was looking to involve an area of the campus in the themed semester that ordinarily isn’t involved,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the institute of international studies.

“I tried to figure out a way to involve students who otherwise might not have a connection to the themed semester,”

Stebbins and Rod Surber, director of public information, suggested Dr. Donald Schultz, instructor of computer assisted manufacturing technology, construct the Eiffel Tower with five students in his fundamentals of tools class.

“I think I caught [Schultz] by surprise when I first approached him, but he quickly got on board with the idea, and you could see his mind racing with different possibilities,” Stebbins said.

Shultz and his students were leery at first, but were soon up to the challenge. They downloaded architectural plans for the scaled down Eiffel Tower off the Internet.

“[Stebbins and Surber] dropped by and just asked me,” Schultz said. “You can imagine what I was thinking, I almost threw them out of the building, I thought [they] were crazy.”

Schultz, who has returned to Southern for the third time, has taught engineering for 13 years. He was excited, but concerned with the deadline for the project.

“I think time was going to be the scary thing,” he said. “We wasted a lot of time trying to weld those little panels together. So it took all semester. If we had stayed with the original plan, we’d still be working on it right now.”

The tower faced some difficulties in the construction process. Shultz and his team ended up utilizing the Lozier Corporation of Joplin for welding work.

Mike Throop, Tom Jones, John Vanmater, Adam Stratton and Dean Parsens, who graduated last December, were the five students who built the Eiffel Tower.

“It was fun and we had a good time,” Schultz said. “I liked the challenge and getting our name across campus. Sometimes we feel like we’re down here at the other end of the campus.”

Stebbins considered the Eiffel Tower to be more than just a visual of the France Semester.

“[The Eiffel Tower’s purpose] was to create a spectacle or a conversation piece to illustrate the themed semester, and set on the Oval to announce to everyone that this is the France semester,” he said.

“I think it provided enthusiasm to that area of campus, and has certainly created publicity for the France semester.”

To help the CAMT, the physical plant transported and wired the 400-pound, iron figure. In about two hours, seven men transported the Eiffel Tower from the technology building to the campus Oval.

“It was neat,” said Orvie Freer, groundskeeper. “It was something we had never done before.”

The theatre department’s role was the lighting of the tower. Technical difficulties surfaced for Sam Claussen, professor of theater and technical director, and Andrew Thompson, senior theater major.

“We had 20 electrical splices, so Andrew backed down on his design a little bit and we’re making it a little less complex with an eye toward maybe later in the semester of adding something else to it,” Claussen said.

Thompson has stayed past daylight hours to work on the project.

“We have to go out there every night, because the control board doesn’t like us,” said Thompson.

The only question now is what is going to happen to Southern’s Eiffel Tower when the France semester is over. Stebbins said the tower should stay in the Oval as a constant reminder of the dedicated semester. Schultz and his team of students would like to see the tower make its home next to the technical building.

“It’s just been wonderful thing for our building and the department,” Schultz said.

“We now feel a little bit more a part of the campus a lot of good things have happened from it.”

Surber agrees the Eiffel Tower adds something memorable to Southern.

“It’s a nice symbol of our international mission,” he said. “And roughly one of more to come.”

Schultz is also proud of the results.

“I love it,” he said. “I’m just so thrilled with it. I can’t wait to get started on the China semester now.”