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The Innovation Factory — a new interdisciplinary space set to open in the University Center on Nov. 8 — is home to the "tailgate" project.

There are seven boomboxes, three larger and four smaller, all made from old truck tailgates. The tailgate boomboxes are way for arts students to get involved in homecoming festivities — a twist on the idea of tailgates at football games.

Faculty member Brad Allen said he and faculty member Elizabeth Dove wanted a catchy project full of energy to introduce people to the new "maker space" — the Innovation Factory — in the University Center. Making a boombox out of a literal tailgate fit the bill.

"What better way to tie to a built-in audience and support athletics and that part of the greater campus?" Allen said.

Thursday afternoon on campus, the large pieces of metal — none quite full-size — lay across worktables, an “F” or “O” here and there, or “CHEVRO-” across one. 

There are lots of design challenges to making a boombox from unconventional materials, senior art student Dillon Weickum said. He and his fellow students working on the project did plenty of research leading up to the project’s start at the beginning of the semester.

“There’s a lot of really cool designers out there who make boomboxes out of interesting things,” he said. “The goal was to make them look as factory-produced as possible.”

The students stripped down new boomboxes using lighting, Bluetooth and speakers mounted onto wood panels that will bolt onto the back of the tailgate pieces. The tailgates will then be embellished with metal, vinyl and plastic pieces.

Allen said the Alumni Association provided five tailgates. Students planned to use spray foam or fiber padding on the inside of the tailgates to dampen vibrations.

“We have all these components from other boomboxes,” Weickum said. “So there will be Bluetooth capability … and LED lights.”

Handles and legs, along with other pieces they needed, came from the 3D printer. Metal fabrication was done in the sculpture studio in the art annex.

“The idea is that people have them and take them to their tailgate,” Weickum said. “They have handles and feet, so they’re portable.”

The boomboxes were to be used in the tailgate area Saturday as part of the UM Homecoming festivities, and Allen said the crew from the Innovation Factory would be be in full costume, red mechanic jumpsuits. Starting at 3:30 p.m., a party was scheduled in the Innovation Factory space with food, a bar and DJing from Kris Moon. The boomboxes will then be raffled or auctioned off.

In the next month, Allen said the Innovation Factory will be working with people and programs in Missoula who are also doing innovative work and might want to represent their program in the space or explore a partnership in the work lab.

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.