Seattle Maritime Academy director Sarah Scherer, right, shows Rebecca Ryan how to tie a knot during the Central to Inspiration showcase.
Seattle Maritime Academy director Sarah Scherer, right, shows Rebecca Ryan how to tie a knot during the Central to Inspiration showcase.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Seattle Central College expanded participation in its year-end student showcase on Wednesday, June 14.

“What we did for our 50th is we expanded it to more programs,” said Seattle Central president Sheila Edwards Lange.

The Central to Inspiration showcase and open house highlighted the experiential learning offered to students over this past school year, Edwards Lange said, adding research shows people learn more when they can see the real-world applications of what they’re studying.

She said Seattle Central is working harder to draw Capitol Hill residents to the campus, to see what the college has to offer.

“We really wanted to make sure that our 50th was a celebration of our community, and connecting our community to us,” Edwards Lange said during the open house.

Computer science students Brian Marshall and Ruth Beeler were on hand to promote the Seattle Central College Robotics club.

Joining them was the club’s modular vehicle, which will be modified for future student projects. Beeler said the next step will be arming it with a cannon that shoots tennis balls.

Marshall became interested in computer science back in high school, making websites for fun, he said. Beeler said her interest started after she graduated college, first with some online courses.

“After a while, I decided to go back to school,” she said.

Edwards Lange tried out the remote-controlled vehicle during the showcase, however, briefly.

Marshall said a camera attached to the vehicle transmits video to a laptop, so the operator can navigate from anywhere. Future plans are to make it so the robot can find targets on its own.

“We’re trying to train it to recognize squares, and then shoot at it,” he said.

Student Kim “Panda” Keller volunteered at the Tukwila Pantry emergency food bank for her Service-Learning project, wanting to focus on curbing malnutrition. While people may eat enough, she said, they’re not always maintaining a healthy diet.

“I’m trying to make a difference, slowly but surely,” she said, “first to the people I know.”

Keller did research on the Healthy Eating Plate model, and has been using what she’s learned to educate her mother, sister, niece and classmates, she said. She had copies to distribute on Wednesday.

“I hope to go back (to the food bank) one of these days,” she said, “and hopefully I can print this out multiple times, so they can have that.”

Seattle Maritime Academy director Sarah Scherer was at the event with academy students. They lured in attendees with a knot-tying tutorial and lots of string.

Seattle Central opened the academy’s new state-of-the-art facility in Ballard last fall, complete with full mission bridge and engine room simulators.

Scherer said the average age of a merchant mariner is 55, meaning there is high demand for a younger workforce to replace those that will soon retire.

The academy’s two main programs — deck and engineering — have a waiting list ever year, she said.

“This community, people don’t realize how impacted they are by the maritime community,” Scherer said.

Lauren Gibbons said she’s feeling confident about her ability to find employment after receiving her degree in the Apparel Design & Development Program. She received her GED from Seattle Central 12 years ago, then returned for the program 2 1/2 years ago.

“It was the kind of thing where I was always into fashion, and I didn’t realize I was into fashion,” Gibbons said.

She showed her Violet Violet capsule collection on June 14; the name is a nod to the inspiration for her clothes — a little Willy Wonka mixed with Seattle’s famous Gum Wall.

“I’m a little silly and little cheeky, and I just felt connected to that,” Gibbons said.

She described the program as challenging, but rewarding, having gained insights from former students, fashion industry professionals, job shadowing and a required internship.

As for her Violet Violet collection, those clothes won’t be for sale.

“I’m probably going to keep them,” she said of her unisex line. “A lot of them fit my husband.”