Burbank educator Holly Espinosa knew she assigned a daunting project to her students.
She'd only given some basic training to then-Columbia High School sophomores Justin McBride and one other student on how to use a new computer-controlled plasma cutter before asking them to design a large steel model of the high school's logo -- a coyote.
"Here's the phone. Here's the (operation manual). Here's what I want," she remembers telling them.
On Monday, they finished their assignment. District employees and a volunteer hoisted the 16-by-9-foot metal sculpture into place in front of the high school's vocational technology building.
McBride, 17, said he didn't think administrators and teachers would actually install the artwork.
The tool that made it happen, a Torchmate, was new to the school this past year. Espinosa, Columbia High's agriculture and career and technical education teacher, said the device is a computer-operated plasma cutter and table that uses computer-aided design software.
She said the district hoped to do something with the gravel drainage area between the vocational education building and Maple Street. The space could not be landscaped, so Espinosa came up with the idea to design a large version of the school's logo, a stylized coyote head.
McBride, who worked on the project as part of his Agricultural Mechanics class, said the project was challenging. Along with the technical knowledge needed to run the plasma cutter, he worried about fitting large sheets of 1/4-inch steel on the work table.
"I didn't think I'd be able to do it," said McBride, now a junior.
Jake Young, 17, who will be a senior this fall, worked to build the framework that supports the 20-plus pieces of the sculpture and did much of the welding.
"Moving it was the hassle," said Young, who has worked on other welding projects.
Columbia Superintendent Lou Gates said he was pleased with the purple and gold sculpture and likened it to the Wild Horse Monument near Vantage.
"It's one of the nicer student sculptures I've seen," he said.
Espinosa agreed, noting it was a learning experience for her students. She's now looking forward to other projects incorporating the school's Torchmate.
"All the kids want to use it," she said.