Sep 052005
Authors: Margaret Canty

Dorm beds that move with the push of a button sound like a prop in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" to most, but to freshmen computer engineer majors Tyler Brinks and Spencer Heinemann , it's just a matter of physics.

The two Corbett Hall residents built their own beds this summer, designed to give them more space in the small rooms.

"We started to build lofts, but the fire code says they have to be at least three feet from the ceiling, but then we'd have to crouch underneath them," Heinemann said.

The Residence Hall Handbook states a minimum of 36 inches is required from the top of the mattress to the ceiling because hot gasses and smoke tend to rise during a fire.

"We then decided to use bolts, but then knew we could do better, so I added a motor and Tyler added a crank," Heinemann said.

Although the students make it sound simple, to most non-engineering majors the beds are fairly complex. Brinks' crank version has ropes attached to a platform and a drum. When the drum is turned, the rope wraps around it and lifts the bed.

"My inspiration was my dad, who also went to CSU and built his own bed," Brinks said.

Heinemann's bed is electrical and runs using an electric cable through 12 different pulleys, up the post and to the platform. It's controlled with a simple button.

"My mom's an architect and my dad's an engineer," Heinemann said. "I guess you could say we're mechanically inclined."

The cranked bed cost a total of $250 including wood, and the electric bed cost $350.

"We used redwood for the posts because it's the straightest and looks good," Heinemann said. "The rest is pine."

The beds have made their room popular among other residents, with an average of three people a day stopping by to see them, Heinemann said.

"It was cool to see them being built from the ground up. I had Spencer put an extra desk in for me," said Heinemann's girlfriend Maria Torres, a freshman open option major.

The men's engineering talent is no new development. Tom Heinemann, Spencer's father and CSU graduate, said the two have had a "knack" for it for a while, especially after Spencer built a go-cart out of a lawnmower in middle school.

"Their talent has been pretty apparent for a long time," he said.

Brinks, whose father also built his own bed in college, has done a lot of previous building, including a sub box for his car audio system, a desk and a chair.

"I've been building stuff for many, many years," he said.

As for future plans, the two students are designing a combination of the two beds and making it with metal. They are currently "actively seeking patent" and hope to eventually market the bed design.

"They're both good at technical things and very creative," said Tom Heinemann. "I wouldn't doubt they could do anything they put their minds to. They've definitely got a shot."

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