Students show off souped-up bikes at K-State Open House

By Bryan Richardson

From afar, Saturday’s open house on the Kansas State University campus could appear chaotic.

When taking a closer look… it could still appear chaotic, as a multitude of individual moments took place within eyesight.

Those moments all contributed to Saturday’s festivities, which gave K-State a chance to show the thousands of people who attended what it offers through academics and extracurricular activities.

The campus opened its doors for people to visit various colleges and organizations but also had a number of events outdoors for people to walk up and witness activities.

Outside of the engineering college, Braden Damman, senior in mechanical engineering, prepared to ride his customized bicycle for onlookers.

The 26cc grass trimmer engine made the bicycle competition ready.

The handle near the seat that Damman moved from side to side allowed for continuous gear switching.

The large American flag on a pole attached to the back of his bicycle didn’t really have a purpose.

“I just thought it would be a nice touch,” Damman said.

Damman is a part of the Whip’n Around Campus student group, which modifies bicycles with grass trimmer motors for competition.

The group held an exhibition Saturday with drag races, a maximum speed challenge and lap races.

“It’s fun talking to the kids about how the bike works and getting them excited about it,” Damman said.

Tommy Marietta, junior in mechanical engineering, said he enjoys the opportunity to exhibit his work.

“It’s become a yearly thing we do,” he said. “It’s great for the crowds.”

Marietta said the open house represents a time for convincing students on the fence to come to K-State.

He said he attended the open house before he attended K-State, and his brother was also in the mechanical engineering program.

“It’s really important to have some sort of hands-on project,” Marietta said. “For a lot of high school kids including me at that time, they really don’t know what to get into with mechanical engineering.”

The event isn’t necessarily for high school students on their way to college, though, and people of all ages attended.

This included many families such as the Porteniers, who came from Washington.

Tushaun and Clayton Portenier said they come almost every year.

“The downside is you can’t see everything in one day,” Tushaun said. “That’s why we come back.”

They graduated from Manhattan Christian College, and Tushaun also attended K-State.

Of course, the trip can’t be complete without the involvement of the younger Porteniers, Calvin, Hannah, Garret and Emma.

This year, the family came to visit Calvin, who is a freshman at K-State for mechanical engineering.

He said coming to the event in the past contributed to him enrolling at K-State.

“The availability of having an open house certainly added to my desire to come here,” Calvin said.

Hannah, who is in eighth grade, said she mostly comes for the fun.

It’s never too early to start thinking about college choices, however.

“I’m thinking about going to engineering now,” Hannah said. “They were pretty persuasive.”

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