Rowland Hall grads and brothers Ethan Fedor '13 and Chris Fedor '15 were back in Salt Lake recently, but not for a vacation. The two California Polytechnic State University engineering students attended the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), an annual gathering of bicycle-frame builders. The show changes locations each year, and lucky for the Fedor brothers, it landed in their hometown for 2017.
Frame builders at the show are often individuals, but Ethan and Chris attended on behalf of the Cal Poly Bike Builders Club, a hands-on learning group where students work together to build bike frames, from design and use of software through actual fabrication.
Chris, currently completing his second year at Cal Poly in mechanical engineering, serves as club president. Older brother Ethan, a club member and fourth-year student, gives Chris plenty of kudos for heading the 40-member organization.
"Chris has always been planning- and results-oriented, which is important when wading through school bureaucracy and paperwork," Ethan said. "I don't mind saying he's doing a terrific job."
The club started in 2011 as an outgrowth of a formal engineering class, Singletrack Vehicle Design, which covered everything about bike design. Afterwards, a group of students wanted to keep learning, so they started a club to share their knowledge and experience. Cal Poly made good on its motto—"Learn by Doing"—by giving the club a work space in "the hangar," an on-campus machine shop with "everything you could need to build something," Chris explained. It's funded by the Mechanical Engineering department and stocks such critical supplies as mills, lathes, welders, and woodworking equipment.
As published in a Bicycle Times article, the club finally realized its longtime goal of showing a bike at NAHBS in 2016. This year, club members were excited to showcase their track bike that uses some of the latest welding technology. The club's next goal is to graduate from a New Builders Table at the show to a full booth of bikes designed and built by students.
"While there are several other schools going to NAHBS, we are a little bit different in that all of our knowledge has been gained through our own research and experience, not a textbook, class, or professor," Chris said.
The brothers have enjoyed a lifetime of evolving enthusiasm for bikes and building. Their Rowland Hall teachers served as early accomplices to the boys' engineering endeavors. In high school, that took the form of starting a ski equipment company out of the family garage with their friend Jonathan Zubair '13, who recently graduated from the University of Utah in engineering and plans to attend Stanford University for his master's degree. Cycling has always been a hobby in the Fedor family and Ethan raced competitively throughout high school.
"Our dad had us on bikes before we were out of diapers. So naturally, our two areas of interest melded into each other, joining the Cal Poly Bike Builders when we came here to school," Chris said.
Ethan said he was happy to see Rowland Hall physics teacher Robin Hori and former teacher Steve Mond at NAHBS. "Chris and I and the entire frame-building team have learned a great deal in the years since high school," the older brother said. "It's great to be able to showcase these new skills, especially to the people who helped build our academic foundation."
As for the future, neither Ethan nor Chris seem interested in predicting.
"I have never been one to think too hard about the future. I generally work on whatever interests me at the time," Ethan said. He currently has a six-month internship at big-name cycling brand Specialized, and will likely continue at Cal Poly to earn a master's degree through their 4+1 program.
With at least two years of college left, Chris is keeping his career options open. "I don't want to restrict myself to anything," he said. "Who knows, by the end of college I might be building canoes or helicopters." In the meantime, he's looking forward to his summer internship at Unical Aviation.
"Rowland Hall prepared me for the rigors of college," Chris said. "I am currently taking Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Electric Circuit Theory, Materials Engineering, and Engineering Programming—all while running a 40-person club, working a full-time job, and trying to find time for eating, sleep, and a social life. Needless to say, I don't have much downtime. But I credit my ability to withstand that to my time at Rowland Hall."