Riding the research wave

OCC student wins the Research Symposium when he finds mainstream surfboard theories may not be accurate.

Bodhi Edwards shows his winning research to an attendee at the Giles T. Brown Student Project and Research Symposium in March.

Bodhi Edwards grew up learning about surfboards, but attending Orange Coast College and using its surfboard shaper led him on a new educational journey.

Edwards, 22, a mechanical engineering major, began unraveling the lifelong assumptions about what made a good ride while studying polystyrene boards in his engineering materials class at OCC.

After studying seven tail designs in simulation, Bodhi found that two designs performed better than traditional theory suggested. His research led him to win the OCC Research Symposium this year and the $1,500 award that came with it. “This project has probably been one of the biggest accomplishments for me,” Edwards said. “It was something that I considered entirely in my own power. I got this award because of the hours and hours I put into this research, by myself,” he said.

Bodhi said he spent five or six hours on the computer every day for three or four months, just running simulations. To pass the time and decompress during breaks, Bohdi said he played an array of musical instruments.

The instruments, he said, are his language.

Edwards explained that when he was in the fourth grade he was removed from a bad living situation and moved to Thousand Oaks where he met his life-changing elementary school music teacher, Debbie Sipos.

Through instruments like the sousaphone and bassoon he was able to channel his issues and began the transition from being nearly homeless to gaining direction and structure, he said.

“That’s how I channel everything, even when I'm thinking of a math problem,” Edwards said. “Right now I literally have a bass in my hand, this is how I think.” The results of his research went against common knowledge and surprised even experienced surfers, like his father Michael Edwards, a 57-year-old hand shaper for custom boards.

Bodhi Edwards said his dad has been shaping boards for over 20 years and customizes each client’s board according to the way they surf. His father served as the inspiration for his project, he said.

“I was going in not even thinking I would do any projects on surfboards,” Edwards said. He plans on attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall, a college even more equipped than OCC as far as surfboard shaping goes, and plans to expand on his research.

Bodhi Edwards’ project is truly one of a kind as he optimized and expanded his research based on techniques that were overlooked. Most of this type of research is available only for professional surfers due to the high cost.

However, because of the technology in OCC’s Makerspace, run by Steve Fuchs, Bodhi Edwards was able to actualize his idea.

“They [have] everything to make the best surfboard for Orange County waves. I would just have to put in the work,” Edwards said.

He continues to pursue a career in mechanical engineering and dreams of working on high end cars. In his off time he can be found in a drum circle or attending a West African drum and dance class.