Unconventional students at Rice: Claire O’Malley

The Rice campus has been a fertile landscape of opportunities for Baker College senior Claire O’Malley. The San Francisco native, a double major in mechanical engineering and visual and dramatic arts, has made her mark from the art studios of Sewall Hall to the shop floors of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK).

“I was really excited about coming to Rice and being able to study studio arts and engineering, and to marry those two and do something interesting with that,” said O’ Malley, who is serving as the co-director of the student-run Matchbox Gallery in Sewall Hall. “I’ve always had a super-intense creative impulse. When I came to Rice, my idea of art was spun 180 degrees. I was exposed to diverse types of art. I interacted with people who think of art differently than I did.” O’Malley said during her four years at Rice, her understanding of the importance of art and her impulse to make art have changed.

Wearing her mechanical engineering hat, she is currently in the final stages of a yearlong design project to create an articulating arm that assists with wastewater cleanup in Houston’s bayous. The arm will help people who clean the bayous to collect 20 garbage trucks’ worth of plastic bags per year, O’Malley said. “We are trying to design this arm that helps people collect this trash a lot more easily just because there’s way too much of it.”

After Rice, O’Malley is planning to pursue a career in product design. “Something that I would like to design tackles the drought issues in California,” she said. “It’s basically to make this pump that recycles wastewater in peoples’ homes so they can reuse water they’ve barely used.”

About Brandon Martin

Greetings, I am a video producer at Rice University in the Office of Public Affairs. I became a Rice Owl in June 2011. Before that, I was at KPRC-TV in Houston as a special projects photojournalist for seven years, where I covered everything from hurricanes to sports. Southeast Texas has been my home my entire life. I am lucky to have a wonderful wife and two of the cutest girls I have ever seen. Go Owls!