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Eagle Scout project is a family affair

When Tim Van Oss, a 17-year-old junior at Canisius High School, went looking for a project to fulfill requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout, he stuck pretty close to an area where his family is brimming with expertise: engineering.

With the help of his grandfather, mother and father, Tim designed and built a shelter for the addax/antelope exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo.

Tim is aspiring to become the third generation of Frandinas in civil engineering locally. His grandfather, Philip Frandina, owns and operates Frandina Engineering.

"He's a structural engineer, and it's one of the reasons I wanted to go into engineering because he's my role model," Tim said.

Tim's mother, Roseanne Frandina, is a civil engineer and his father, Jim Van Oss, worked as a mechanical engineer for 15 years before moving into information technology. Tim also has several cousins and uncles on his mother's side of the family who are civil engineers.

Engineering has been a part of his life practically from the beginning.

"When I was little, my mom would drop me off at my grandfather's office, and we would go do surveys," Tim recalled.

However, the shelter he built for the zoo "was really my first exposure to civil engineering work," he said.

Still, his mother prepared him well. During the summers, Roseanne Frandina would sometimes bring Tim to work with her, where he would help her organize her paperwork, file her big drawings in flat files and accompany her on field work.

While his grandfather helped Tim design the shelter, figure the load calculations and the best wood to use -- hemlock -- his mom helped him secure donations for the materials. Tim's father assisted by helping to arrange for deliveries and the manpower to build the shelter.

The project was completed with 35 volunteers, including members from Tim's Boy Scout Troop 5, which operates out of Parkside Lutheran Church in North Buffalo. Tim's father is the troop's scoutmaster.

"He's a math and science kid so he loves engineering," said Jim Van Oss.

Tim describe the shelter as being 16 feet by 8 feet on the ground, and 10 1/2 at it highest point and 8 feet at its lowest. It was designed to be comfortable for the antelope and addax that will be using it.

"The shelter is in the middle of the exhibit, so the animals could share it as neutral territory," Tim explained.

"It had to be right next to the wall and far enough from the end of the exhibit so that if a dominant animal caught it, the weaker could escape and not get trapped," he added.

Tim said he got the idea for the shelter from Buffalo Zoo Director Donna Fernandes, who attended the same church, Blessed Sacrament, as his family.


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