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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Earth week invites sustainable entertainment

SEAC teams up with Cycling Club to show pedal-powered movie
Photo by Helen Dudley [email protected]
Students from Cycling Club powered ‘Inside Out’ in front of Lalumiere April 20.

It’s been nearly a decade since Dan O’Brien walked into the spinning class that would change his life. Originally, he was at the studio to visit a friend, Dan Aukofer, a colleague of O’Brien’s, but as he scanned the room and observed the bikers pedaling furiously, he marveled at the amount of wasted energy and wondered if he could somehow put it to good use.

That’s when Aukofer posed a question: “Do you think there’s any way we could power a concert?”

Now, the duo powers more than just concerts, such as Rock the Green, an annual sustainable music festival in Milwaukee. The innovative act of engineering caught the eye of Astera Sundance, a senior in the College of Engineering and the president of Marquette’s Students for an Environmentally Active Campus. 

She wanted to bring the movement to campus, so she planned a pedal-powered movie night in Central Mall, featuring Pixar’s “Inside Out” Thursday, April 20.

“When I was a freshman, SEAC had put on a pedal-powered movie, but it hadn’t gone on since,” Sundance said. “I wanted to bring it back for Earth Week.”

The goal was to help the Earth and help SEAC to gain more recognition on campus.

“For Earth Week, we were looking for environmental ideas,”Alex Gattone, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of SEAC, said. “We had heard about Rock the Green and contacted (O’Brien and Aukofer).”

The group also reached out to Marquette’s Cycling Club and triathlon team to help power the bikes, as well as MUSG for funding. SEAC encouraged students to attend via Facebook and with a smattering of posters across campus.

Event though it was a chilly spring night, the showing of “Inside Out” turned out to be quite a success.

“This goes along really well with Earth Week,” Molly Rockwood, a sophomore in the College of Nursing who heard about the event on Facebook, said. “It’s important to show people that there are other forms of energy … more environmentally friendly ways of power. Plus, it was a good movie choice that had a lot of meaning to it.”

Mae Haggerty, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, who was simply looking for something fun to do on a Thursday night, agreed.

“’Inside Out’ was a big factor in getting people out tonight, but it’s really interesting that you can do this. And it’s important to recognize the different ways you can power a whole movie for the university to see,” Haggerty said.

Besides the low temperatures, the only problem might have been, at times, too much power. With the presence of the cycling and triathlon teams, the system overloaded frequently near the start of the movie, which was indicated by two bright lights cascading over the crowd, and it forced everyone to stop pedaling.

“This system was originally designed and intended to put on concerts,” O’Brien said. “Normally, we never see the floodlights. The opposite is the truth: A lot of times we don’t have enough power.”

Eventually, O’Brien’s plan is to be able to charge batteries and store the overflowed energy, a feat he says will be difficult to accomplish. For the time being, he had to tell the power cyclers at the movie, who sometimes go for 100-mile sessions, to take it down a notch.

Even though they couldn’t get the workout they wanted, the Cycling Club was still thrilled to be a part of the event.

“Working together with other groups is nice, and it helps raise awareness,” Charles Manchester, a senior in the College of Engineering, and a cycler, said. “SEAC reached out to us because they weren’t sure they were going to have enough generated power. We were absolutely thrilled because we love riding bikes.”

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