How could a technical-college mascot come to be, but through the tinkering of a mad genius such as scientist Garry Oaks? During WWII, when the fledgling institution was nothing more than a partner to area military, building heavy machinery and aircraft for the war effort, this researcher, who was odd and brilliant and way ahead of his time, had several side projects he tinkered on, often late into the night in the bowels of Building 18, a spiffy new structure at the time.
Today, it’s only a guess whether a gift was left to be found by a later generation, in the philanthropic tradition of the institution, or a lost wager on race cars (a throwback to the '20s, when the land was used as a wooden racetrack) that caused the oddly-marked crate to be tucked away in a dark corner of Building 18. Or perhaps it was just the kind of treasure an absent-minded professor might leave behind as he wandered off into the horizon. No one really knows what became of the brilliant scientist, but sources say that the discovery made, quite accidentally, a priceless legacy that Oaks could not have imagined would impact this college in the future so profoundly.
Actually, the crate, with a stencil of PROJECT C.O.B.W.E.B. on the top, was almost thrown into the junk heap when the building was being cleared out for demolition. A member of the college’s student government rescued it, hauled it away for scrutiny, thinking the ominous rattling and clinking sounds and the heaviness of the box, might be more significant than the cobwebs that shrouded it belied. At a recent meeting of the Associated Student Government Council, the ASG President arrived with a tire iron and, before shocked members, pried off the rusty nails of the old crate. As Council members peered down into the musty-smelling crate, the object they saw, rusty and spider-webby, lying cradled in crumpled newspapers dated 1942, brought forth a collective gasp.
ASG members immediately saw the treasure before them as an opportunity to embrace their college’s history as they stared into the crate, face to face with an enigma. Even in this lifeless state, it exhibited considerable charm. It was a collection of rusty parts with its smooth face and antenna askew. Somehow, although it was in need of care, it was cute and cuddly—what kind of genius could make robotics be cuddly?
The notes found lying beside the inert technology shed light on the fact that Oaks had used secret advanced technology to give a personality to this one-of-a-kind piece of delicately tuned machinery. He made it whip-crack smart at picking up new programs, gave it a sense of pride and even style. The secret project’s acronym, C.O.B.W.E.B., remains a mystery. The only order of business at this momentous ASG Council meeting became adopting this icon as a symbol of the college and giving ASG’s pledge to enlist the support of various programs around campus to polish, update and refine him.
And so Simon was discovered. The robot was named after CPTC rebooted him — or, rather, some work was done to launch him into the next stage of his life, as many students do at CPTC. Simon has now transitioned from his mysterious past into the mascot of Clover Park Technical College, a world-class institution of academics and technology.