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Hofstra engineering student’s 3D-printed failed arch is a symbol of ‘resilience’


HEMPSTEAD, NY — This month, as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage, we feature an aspiring first-generation college graduate who is spreading an important message at a Long Island college.

She turned a mistake into a work of art, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

In the library of Hofstra University is twisted plastic that was, by engineering standards, a failure.

Senior Esther Zhang was tasked with designing a structure to complete her degree. But in the months-long process, it “virtually” failed, Zhang said.

“I just wanted to make this large-scale arch, about 12 feet in span. Something that people could walk under,” Zhang said.

Her 3D printed mesh creation was meant to form a perfect arch. But in the process of cooking, he overheated, sagging to the ground.

“It was very disappointing because I had worked for so long,” Zhang said.

“It was devastating. We saw that the play didn’t work out the way we hoped,” said Professor Ted Segal.

The project is now a symbol for college seniors. Zhang made two smaller arches out of it and named it “Resilient”.

“It took a lot of resilience, I think, to get through those four years,” she said.

The college interrupted seemingly endless COVID challenges.

“It took a heavy mental toll,” Zhang said. “Just being stuck at home was a big factor that I think made us feel like our college careers were stolen from us.”

Resilient means the ability to be reshaped without breaking, adapting to change. Both arcs now make a point.

“You have to be adaptable,” Segal said.

“I just want people to know that they are capable of so much more than they realize and there is so much in them that is capable of going all the way,” Zhang said.

She credits her parents, Chinese immigrants, with instilling the lessons of resilience. Three daughters – all first-generation graduates.

“Even though their whole life and family are back in China, they have persevered all these years for their children so that we can have a better life,” Zhang said.

An experience that not only transformed a university project into a work of art, but also teaches a lesson to the entire Hofstra community. When things don’t go your way, pivot.


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