Credit: Cambria Christmas Market | Courtesy

On Nov. 29, the Cambria Christmas Market debuted a life-sized motorized advent calendar  a new feature designed, engineered and constructed by Cal Poly students.

Mechanical engineering seniors Sigrid Derickson, Oma Skyrus, Danny Clifton and Tyler Koski took on the calendar as their senior design project in early January 2019.

According to engineering professor Lee McFarland, the senior design project is a course spanning three academic quarters, wherein students are assigned to engineer specified solutions for external companies who sponsor the project.

Cambria Pines Lodge, which hosts the annual Cambria Christmas Market, sponsored the project. According to McFarland, lodge owners approached the Cal Poly engineering department last winter with “just an idea” of what they wanted the calendar to entail. It was then left to Derickson, Skyrus, Clifton and Koski to design and manufacture a real-life, working apparatus. 

“It’s been quite the rush because we had a very early deadline compared to other senior projects because the Cambria Christmas Market opens the day after Thanksgiving,” Skyrus said.

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Video by Sofia Silvia

The group constructed 25 distinguished boxes one to represent each day of December leading up to Christmas, and 17 of which simulate motion over the course of 10 months. The boxes fit into a 20-foot by 13-foot facade that the group painted and decorated to match the “German Christmas village” theme of the calendar, according to Skyrus. 

“It’s a real challenge, and in many ways it’s similar to what they would experience in the real world,” McFarland said.

According to Derickson, there are three levels of mechanical motion the group incorporated into the project.

The first level involves moving lights — objects engineered to light up. The second level  “takes rotational motion from the motor and turns it into linear motion,” Derickson said. This type of motion is used for simpler motions, like a waving snowman featured in one of the boxes. The third level of motion involves spinning objects.

The group relied heavily on Mustang 60, the Cal Poly College of Engineering Machine Shop, for access to tools like laser cutting systems.

“All the resources at Mustang 60 have been absolutely essential for us to get this done,” Skyrus said.

The motorized advent calendar is on display at the  Cambria Christmas Market  from 5-9 p.m. until Dec. 23.

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