April 9, 2007
Rice senior Devon Fanfair isn't afraid of challenges. He actually relishes them, and meets them head-on in an effort to make his passion become reality. A decorated triple jumper on the Owls' track and field team, Fanfair spends almost every off-track moment working on his senior project, and like much else in his life, the project is about making life easier and better for others.
As part of his Mechanical Engineering major, Fanfair and two colleagues are working to enhance the recycling process on campus. Every day, two workers have to lift 50-gallon recycle bags that weigh around 250lbs onto a cart and then into the compactor. "Our two semester project is to create a chair-lift system that lifts the bag from the ground to cart and cart to compactor," said Fanfair. "This 'special' project has completely taken my life over. I am excited about it because we get to help people, which gives this project purpose."
The Pasadena Dobie graduate also works with Dr. Michael Carroll in the Rice Mechanical Engineering department. "In the past we worked on regulating the standards on aluminum baseball bats for the NCAA," Fanfair said. "Then, we created a class currently being taught by Dr. Carroll that looks at trajectories of the baseball, javelin, shot put, and football. The class also derives equations for running and looks at ways to optimize various sports and events."
Currently, Carroll's charges, including Fanfair, are working on an age-old problem in track sprint events. Fanfair said, "Any running event the starts on a curve, (200, 400, etc), is unfair. There are significant differences between the lanes, so much so that they have removed the 200m dash from the professional indoor track and field circuit. We have designed an outdoor track that eliminates this problem. We just got the patent and are talking with different contractors to hopefully build this track at Rice."
Fanfair, who ultimately wants to use his Rice education to land a job in the design department of a major athletic equipment company, also is a leader in the Awakenings Movement, a Christian, non-denominational church that was once part of Windsor Village Church in Houston. He has been active in faith-based groups since high school, and lives his beliefs.
"Life is what you make it," Fanfair said. "I have learned that being me is the best thing I can be. That is, trying to live my life in a way that God would smile upon." With his mix of faith, passion and persistence, Devon Fanfair is destined to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.