'Man Vs. Cartoon' Begins Six Week Run June 13

SOCORRO, N.M., June 2, 2009 – New Mexico Tech will be the star of a new six-episode cable series that begins airing Saturday, June 13.

Tech students John Korbin, Daniel Preston, Tyson Joe and Justine Davidson test their "Coyote Contraption" during filming of "Man Vs. Cartoon" in the summer of 2008.

 Pilgrim Productions set up camp in Socorro for four months over the summer of 2008 to film the show, which was planned to coincide with the re-release of the Warner Bros.’ roadrunner cartoons. The premise of the series was rather simple: If Wile E. Coyote had had a proper engineering education, would his harebrained contraptions been able to catch the Roadrunner?  

For the series, two teams of Techies were given problems to solve. One team included seven students – Tyson Joe, Carolyn Eggert-Pehap, Justine Davidson, John Korbin, Daniel Preston, Jessica Elias and Stefan Marr. The students conducted three experiments and tests – the Coyote Contraption, Rocket Skates and Fan Skates.

“I’m so excited to see the show,” said Eggert-Pehap, an Alamogordo native. “We spent so much time on it and we had such a good time on it. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

The two teams of New Mexico Tech engineers recreated 10 stunts, which will be featured in six hour-long episodes. The show will air at 9 p.m. every Saturday from June 13 to July 18 on TruTV.

“You invest so much time and effort and then you get to see it play out on TV,” said Davidson, a Los Lunas High graduate. “When you watch the show, it looks like it didn’t take very long, but we took a month to build that contraption.

Davidson said she and her cast mates have been anticipating the release of the show.

“We’ve been Googling the show every day and seeing it in the news,” she said. “I think it represents the school pretty well and it’s entertaining.”

“It’s been nearly a year of waiting and anticipating,” Joe said. “There was so much hype within the student body and the university. We were amped up for the first six months after filming. Then, it got delayed and delayed. Now that it’s really happening, it’s sort of surreal.”

Each of the students said the filming process was a lot of fun and hard work.

“We were all from different disciplines,” Marr said. “We were kind of running around doing our own thing, but we got it all together.”

Joe said each of the student team members brought their own strengths and skills to the Tech engineering cast. Eggert-Pehap and Korbin are math majors. Elias is a physics major. The others are from different engineering disciplines – petroleum, chemical and mechanical.

“We all had exceptional abilities and a sense of planning,” Joe said. “But we usually work with people within our own department. So we had to figure out how to work together to make these projects work.”

Several months ago, Pilgrim Productions gave Tech a promotional video for the show, which the university has used as a marketing tool. Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero, who was largely responsible for bringing the TV show to Tech, showed the video to visiting politicians, state leaders and gatherings of students. Dr. Romero used the video, along with an interactive physics tutorial, to engage students at the State Science Fair and the State Science Olympiad.

“The national exposure will be priceless,” Romero said. “But I truly treasured the opportunities I’ve had to relate talk about science in an innovative style. Everyone knows the Roadrunner cartoons, so these students stay engaged when we talk about how math, science and engineering are put to use in the real world – or the cartoon world, in this case.”

The students said the same thing – that Tech will get invaluable exposure from the series.

From left are faculty advisor Dr. Don Weinkauf, the Roadrunner, student Joe Tyson, stuntman Casey Adams, stunt coordinator Tim Gernec, and students John Korbin, Stefan Marr and Carolyn Eggert-Pehap.

The other team was staff members from Energetic Materials Research Testing Center – engineers Mike Stanley, Leonard Garcia, Jason Metzger and Robert Abernathy, along with several support technicians. The EMRTC crew recreated seven coyote experiments and stunts.

Mike Stanley, associate director of EMRTC, said he’s previewed all six episodes and much of the footage is dramatic. Stanley, who is also a Tech graduate, said the show could serve as a great recruiting tool.

“I think it’s going to be great publicity for Socorro, New Mexico Tech and EMRTC,” he said.
Most of the series was filmed in labs and workshops on the main campus and the EMRTC test range. However, other portions of the series were filmed around town as well, including trips to hardware stores, pawn shops and other local locations.

Each team was given several tasks to engineer. After each team constructed and tested their devices – like rocket-powered roller skates – professional stuntmen put some of the properly-engineered devices to the test.

Other stunts include the Coyote’s boulder drop and the Coyote trying to spear the Roadrunner while swinging from an oversized pendulum.

– NMT –