Arteburn’s story: It’s electric

Beth Sewell

Some students throw a party when their parents leave for the weekend. But for Scottsville sophomore Andy Arterburn, it’s the perfect opportunity to rewire the entertainment system, again.

Arterburn has experienced many failed attempts at rewiring his home, resulting in the electrical company coming out to correct the damage.

He has taken apart televisions, VCRs, a DVD player and even satellites in hopes of making them work better. He has been through lectures, punishments and a few minor fires, but he refuses to give up.

“I just always think I can make the reception better or fix the satellite fuzziness,” Arterburn said. “I just like fixing stuff and working with my hands.”

His electrical fetish was punished for the last time when Arterburn, in an attempt to further the experience of surround sound, plugged one too many cords into the wall. Luckily, no one was injured in the small fire that followed. His parents decided it was time for him to put his “natural-born tinkering” to good use.

Arterburn enrolled at Western and declared electrical engineering his major. His parents were sure this was the creative outlet he needed. That’s not to be confused with the electrical outlet Arterburn stuck his dad’s screwdriver in a few months before.

“They were happy that I was doing all my work in a lab at a university instead of at home,” Arterburn said. “I have to admit though, it’s not half as much fun . or flammable.”

His skills were put to the test last year when Arterburn was assigned to build a robotic bug. The task was small but challenging. Arterburn decided that truly claiming success meant working alone. His goal was to create the best little robo-bug in the class, one that had sensors on its head and would turn right when its left sensor touched something. He designed the right sensor to work the same way.

He worked day and night to make his James Bond-worthy bug come alive. He vowed that once he was declared the smartest engineer in the world, he would have it made.

When the moment of truth came, Arterburn literally got his wires crossed.

“It kept turning right when its right sensor felt the wall, so it just kept on running into everything,” Arterburn said. “My teacher laughed, but I think I still got the worst grade in the class.”

The robo-bug project didn’t keep Arterburn down for long. He reasoned that college is all about learning, and without mistakes, he would never learn. His rocky start in electrical engineering often brings laughs to his old classmates and teachers. Arterburn has since been successful. He hasn’t caused a fire or a major power-outage in almost a year.

“I’m getting the hang of it now,” Arterburn said. “I’m learning more and more everyday. Now I can build something and keep it working long enough to make it home.”