Students in “Introduction to Engineering Innovation & Design” course spend half a semester putting their new engineering skills to work for other members of the Yale community. This team partnered with the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) to study the effects of gravity over time on the famous sculpture “David” by the Italian artist Michelangelo.

The students built a machine, nicknamed FRED (Force Relay Exertion Device), and models that mimicked the angles and pressures of David’s ankles. They made the models in different materials, including concrete and clay, so the IPCH can see what happens with different materials.

FRED is now used in another class that studies the materials sciences of the arts and is taught by IPCH scientists.