News>Feature - Old hard drive components become medium for unique artwork
Miguel Rivera stands behind his sculptures he built from old hard drives and computer parts Dec. 19, 2009, at an air base in Southwest Asia. Mr. Rivera is a 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron systems administrator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tony Tolley)
Miguel Rivera created this motorcycle sculpture from old hard drive components. The dog tags were given to him by a Navy chaplain and he added them to the sculpture as a tribute to all servicemembers. Mr. Rivera is a 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron systems administrator. (Courtesy photo/Miguel Rivera)
Miguel Rivera created this robot sculpture from old hard drive components. It took him almost two full weeks to complete. Mr. Rivera is a 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron systems administrator in Southwest Asia. (Courtesy photo /Miguel Rivera)
Miguel Rivera created this miniature car-like vehicle from old hard drive components. Mr. Rivera is a 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron systems administrator in Southwest Aisa. (Courtesy photo/Miguel Rivera)
by Capt. Larry van der Oord
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
12/28/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- When computer hard drives go bad, Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron here typically strip them of all their pertinent data and send them to the explosive ordnance disposal unit in the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron for destruction. However, recently one 386th ECS systems administrator has found a unique use for those worn out hard drives.
Miguel Rivera has been using the pieces from old hard drives to create a collection of distinctive sculptures. So far he has constructed two different cars, a fat-boy motorcycle and a robot.
"I just started making them just a few months ago," said Mr. Rivera, who has worked in the 386th ECS for the past five years. "We had a growing pile of hard drives just lying around the shop. One day I decide to take one apart since I'd never looked at the guts up close before. That's pretty much how it all started."
His first sculpture, a car-like vehicle, was built over one full weekend from standard 3.5-inch hard drives. It took a total of 33 hard drives to make, including 32 gutted for the discs and one for the main body.
"The first one wasn't really difficult to put together since I didn't have to modify much other than the cover," said Mr. Rivera. "Everything else just screwed on."
His second sculpture was another miniature car, and the difficulty of construction was very similar to the first, said Mr. Rivera. His third piece, a fat-boy motorcycle, was a bit more difficult.
"I just couldn't get parts to mix well at first to reflect the look I wanted. It took many hours of taking apart pieces and putting them back together to get it right," said Mr. Rivera. "From start to finish I think the bike took me three full weekends. I added a pair of dog tags given to me by a Navy chaplain as a tribute to our selfless troops."
Mr. Rivera said his favorite sculpture is the robot he built.
"I was quite humbled about how the robot turned out. In fact, I'm not sure I can out do this one," he said. "Building it went surprisingly smooth, it took me about two full weeks to make. I didn't run into any major obstacles other than making the arms angle as they do. For the most part the pieces just seemed to go together as if they were pre-made from a model kit."
Mr. Rivera's robot sculpture has a total of 14 laptop hard drives with 18 additional discs from gutted hard drives and spare parts. It allowed him to show off some internal hard drive pieces he wasn't able to incorporate into his earlier creations.
Mr. Rivera displays all his creations on his desk at the office, but his work is also drawing some outside attention. All four sculptures were recently featured on the Wired Magazine Web site.
"Miguel is an outstanding member of the 386th ECS team. He is a true mission enabler," said Maj. Roy Rockwell, 386th ECS commander. "He applies the same creativity in solving communication challenges as he applies in creating his very unique sculptures. Our squadron mantra is "Comm Rocks" and it is people like Miguel who make it rock every day."
Mr. Rivera is currently working on a fifth sculpture and plans to unveil the "hard drive helicopter" in the next few weeks.
12/30/2009 11:44:00 AM ET I agree with the individuals who are concerned about Airmen following proper procedure. If the Air Force policy is for the hard drives to be destroyed then the hard drives should be destroyed. Who authorized the misuse of government property and what will happen to the art? Since it is made with government property it is still government property. No matter how creative a person is it does not give him the right to circumvent regulations. All of the art should be turned over to EOD for destruction. There is a reason the hard drives are supposed to be destroyed.
12/30/2009 9:52:26 AM ET The hard drives need to be destroyed. They cannot go thru DRMO. Best guess: once EOD blows them up, they cannot be sold as scrap either.
12/29/2009 11:27:46 AM ET I would think that the proper re-use of spare parts and the proper disposal of government equipment is thru DRMO. It appears to me that this site is endorsing the misuse of government equipment in stories like this. Perhaps I'll go out and attach spare aircraft engines and compnents to aircraft in the boneyard call it art and ask everyone to look at me. Would you cover that story? But I think those spare parts might be better used where they are needed don't you?
MC Fox, USA
12/29/2009 8:06:05 AM ET I think the sculptures are really imaginative. This use of hard drives is the most interesting thing I've seen for old computer equipment. Congratulations. Good luck on the next piece.