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VIDEO: BYU students team-up to build animatronic cougar

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Cosmo, the beloved mascot of BYU, is coming to life with the help of engineering and art students at the school. (Photo: BYU)

Cosmo, the beloved mascot of BYU, is coming to life with the help of engineering and art students at the school.

The capstone project, nicknamed "Cosmotron", was built to introduce plays and similar events for the school's theater department.

Operated by two PlayStation 4 controllers, the cougar can express personality by tilting and turning its head, opening its jaw at different speeds for speech, smiling and frowning, opening and closing its eyes, raising its eyebrows and flapping its ears.

We wanted to give him as much expression as we could,” said Claire Lore, a member of the mechanical engineering team.

Both student-run teams studied taxidermies from BYU's Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum to sculpt his feline appearance.

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"We spent hours looking at pictures, reading about cougar anatomy,” said Jenna Monson, part of the group. "Then we asked the Bean Museum if we could look at one of their cougars, and they said, ‘Oh, just borrow it.’ So we had this cougar in the HFAC for a good three weeks and got to see in closer detail how the eyes looked, the texture on the nose, how the fur moved along the body.”

Students are very excited to debut the project to the rest of the student body and show off what they've learned

I have spent the last five years learning equations, but applying them like this is really amazing because you can really understand how all those puzzle pieces fit together,” said Lore.

BYU students continue to refine Cosmotron for future use and to help educate others about puppetry and animatronics.

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