It all started with a crazy idea (it might have even been a joke) from David May during a meeting. We were trying to order awards for the (then) upcoming Annual Communications Council End of Year Lunch, where we recognize all the hard work from those in the various communication roles on campus. With none of the traditional ideas thrilling us, David said, “why don’t we just have Ross sculpt an award.” Ross Loehner is the web content manager and one of the many talented artists in our department.

Clay model of Panther Award Statue

Sculpted Panther statue prototype to be scanned.

Although slightly apprehensive about creating an award that would be handed out during this luncheon, Ross agreed! He began brainstorming ideas of a panther sculpture. “In my opinion, there is no better way to show our appreciation for a job well done than by handcrafting (and bedazzling) a token of our gratitude. And with all of us silly folks on the web team, we had to make it fun, unique and high tech. So if the opportunity is presented to me to sculpt a panther punching a rising star while wearing a cape, I’m definitely in.”

As the statue was taking shape, I reached out to the Chapman University Launch Labs about their 3D printers. Director of Technology Entrepreneurship Eugene “Gene” Alexander was thrilled to share the 3D printers for this “in-house” award creation. Once Ross finished the panther sculpture (pictured above with toilet paper cape and all), I had it scanned and passed the file off to Chapman University Senior Web Designer, Meghan Farrington.

Meghan quickly became our expert on CAD files and 3D printing. She was able to manipulate the file, add the award titles and names of the winners. She even set up the file to print two awards at once with support beams for the intricate design. “It rocked! It was way more time consuming and challenging than I thought it would be, but crazy fun to learn about. And now we know how we’d design something in the future to make better use of the technology’s possibilities and challenges.”

Girl looking at a 3-D printer

Meghan Farrington watches excitedly as the 3D printer builds the awards

Once the awards were printed, the team worked together to remove the support beams and give it some flare. We added silver glitter to the star and made small capes with panther paws on them!

Before announcing the winners at the award luncheon, David explained the story behind the unique awards. While they were thrilled to win, I think the recipients were more excited to have the statue on their desk. The final product (pictured above title) was given to the staff members with the Most Shared Blog, The Most Viewed Blog, The Most Blog Posts Written, and Most Engagement on Social Media.

As I am sure you can tell by reading this post, I am thrilled to have been a part of this project and it’s just one more reason why I love working with the Strategic Marketing and Communications (SMC) team at Chapman University.