As digital imaging technology has improved and simple-to-use media sharing websites have appeared, the complexity of Halloween jack-o-lanterns being created has been increasing. In response to this trend, a team of faculty at Kansas State University teaching beginning design courses in Engineering Technology and Interior Architecture and Product Design has developed an interdisciplinary pumpkin design project. Students in Manhattan, Kansas and Salina, Kansas practice design skills in pumpkin carving using techniques such as information gathering, digital photography, and drawing by hand or using vector drawing software.
Students completing this project must consider the fragility of the pumpkin material being carved while addressing the challenge of converting a two-dimensional design into a three-dimensional object. The exercise is continually improved and revised as participating faculty electronically share syllabi, rubrics, lesson plans, and finished carved pumpkin examples. Community engagement and service learning is a key component of this project. Partnerships with the zoos in both communities have been established. The students display their completed work, or publicly demonstrate their design and carving techniques at their respective zoos.