GVSU students to upgrade Grand Haven Musical Fountain

GVL / Courtesy - ghfountain.com
Grand Haven Musical Fountain

Grand Haven Musical Fountain

GVL / Courtesy – ghfountain.com Grand Haven Musical Fountain

Carmen Smith

A group of engineering seniors at Grand Valley State University have taken on an extensive project intended to upgrade and enhance a well-known and favorite feature of Grand Haven, Michigan–the Grand Haven Musical Fountain.

Jordan Tatchin, Brett Johnson, Brett Bunton, Allie Graff and Luke Hubbard are working with GVSU faculty to improve the already existing physical features of the fountain and add new ones for an updated appearance.

The students are involved in a variety of majors, including: mechanical engineering, technical engineering, product development and manufacturing. The faculty leader of the project, Terry Stevens, is on the committee for the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, and completed the first retrofit for the fountain in 1983.

Since its installment in 1962, there have been multiple additions and improvements made to the fountain. In 1983, Stevens helped install an industrial computer, called a PLC, that would automatically control the fountain.

In 2013, a group of students from GVSU retrofitted the fountain again, putting a newer PLC on the fountain. Through other projects done in collaboration with students, Stevens said he’s worked on updating features of the fountain such as the choreography and the sound system, however, the water features, installed over 50 years ago, have never been updated.

The students will be upgrading the mechanisms on the sweep which will allow the left to right movement feature run smoother and faster. In addition, the group will propose a completely new water feature, potentially something they’ve invented themselves. The students will also be doing research development, prototyping and documenting the water hydraulics and pneumatic systems.

“It’s a great project for the university and the school of engineering to be involved with because it’s a feature that’s in the community of Grand Haven, and larger to the community of West Michigan,” Stevens said. “It’s a great cause for Grand Haven, and it’s great from Grand Valley in terms of exposure and also a great learning opportunity for the students.”

The students in the engineering program will work on the design for 15 weeks, followed by a 15-week construction period. The students’ goal is to be completely finished with the fountain before Memorial Day for the Grand Haven Musical Fountain show.

Project team leader, Tatchin, said the main goal is to make the fountain pop and make it even more spectacular than it already is. Adding a “wow factor” to the fountain, Stevens added, will add a little bit of excitement, especially for the many tourists that come from all over to see the fountain in action.

“We are really excited about getting to work on something like this and being able to give back to the community, and it’s really cool that we’re taking part in the local community, enriching it, and improving it for the better,” Tatchin said.

The Grand Haven Musical Fountain will be opening for the 55th season in May of 2017. To see a schedule of showtimes or for more information on the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, visit ghfountain.com.