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Throwback: College of Engineering students, faculty built 52-foot snowman in 1988, broke world record

Students+and+faculty+built+the+snowman+as+part+of+Winter+Funfest+in+Feburary+1988.+Photo+via+Raynor+Memorial+Archives%27+February+16%2C+1988+issue+of+The+Marquette+Tribune.
Students and faculty built the snowman as part of Winter Funfest in Feburary 1988. Photo via Raynor Memorial Archives' February 16, 1988 issue of The Marquette Tribune.

Students and faculty built the snowman as part of Winter Funfest in Feburary 1988. Photo via Raynor Memorial Archives' February 16, 1988 issue of The Marquette Tribune.

Students and faculty built the snowman as part of Winter Funfest in Feburary 1988. Photo via Raynor Memorial Archives' February 16, 1988 issue of The Marquette Tribune.

Thomas Salinas, Metro Reporter

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This is part of a series of stories celebrating the 100-year anniversary of The Marquette Tribune.

The College of Engineering held a record for the world’s tallest snowman with a frozen creation topping 52 feet in Feb. 1988.

Engineering faculty and students teamed up to create this snowman as part of Winter Funfest held on Old World Third Street.

Bob Weber, an associate professor in the College of Engineering at the time, supervised the construction along with Thomas Wenzel, a current associate professor emeritus of civil construction and environmental engineering.

Weber said someone from the festival approached him and wanted to bring attention to Winter Funfest. Wenzel said the two came up with the plan.

“We needed an idea, and I thought the world’s tallest snowman would be a good idea,” Wenzel said.

According to the Tribune, the snowman weighed 1.4 million pounds, and Weber said it took about a month to finish.

Wenzel said the base of the snowman consisted of snow cylinders using standard forms from their concrete lab. It was decorated with a 40-foot scarf, and he estimated between 50 to 70 students volunteered with the project. Because of the lack of snow at the time, students brought in a snow machine to create the snowman.

“It was a good event because students got to know one another better, and we got to know the students better as well,” Wenzel said.

Weber agreed that it was unique to work with students on this project, as well as bring attention to Marquette.

While the students built the snowman, Wenzel said the project generated a lot of coverage. He remembers students would often get interviewed while on the building site.

“Students learned engineering tricks as well as teamwork,” Wenzel said. “It also brought a lot of press for the college and university.”

Reflecting back on the experience, Weber said it was a positive experience for everyone. He said he thinks students learned a lot from doing hands-on activities.

“It’s always nice to see engineering projects actually come to shape,” Weber said.

Erik Davis, a junior in the College of Engineering, said he would partake in the project if it were attempted now.

“I think it’s cool that a group of students were able to come together and accomplish something noteworthy like that,” he said. “I’d definitely want to be a part of it if it happened today.”

Anna Ford, a junior in the College of Engineering, added she would be excited to volunteer and learn from it as a team-building exercise.

Mark Federle, an associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering, said it would have been exciting watching students and faculty work together to break a world record.

The current world record was set in Feb. 2008 when the town of Bethel, Maine, built a 122-feet and one-inch-tall snowman.

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