Athena Cinema Athens, OH


Timothy Cyders

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio University

The General— Predicting failure

Mechanical engineer Timothy Cyders discusses engineering design and safety/engineering failure. His presentation is followed by a screening of Buster Keaton’s 1926 death-defying slapstick The General, with live, improvised musical accompaniment by Sean Parsons.

Athena Cinema Athens, OH

Film Synopsis

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive—with his girlfriend aboard—he pursues it single-handedly straight through enemy lines.

Buster Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired at Fort Sumter, Johnny tries to enlist—and is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he's been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal the General (and, unwittingly, Annabelle), the story switches from drama and romance to adventure mixed with Keaton's trademark deadpan humor as he uses every means possible to catch up to the General, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle—for starters. As always, Keaton performs his own stunts, combining his prodigious dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and expressive body language to convey more emotion than the stars of any of the talkies that were soon to dominate cinema. ~ Emru Townsend, Rovi

Banner image courtesy of PHOTOFEST

About the Speaker

Before coming to work at Ohio University in 2012, Timothy Cyders held various engineering positions in engineering testing, manufacturing, and machine design for companies such as Dana Corporation and General Electric’s Consumer and Industrial division. He started his first business in 2008, and has done consulting work in design and manufacturing optimization for various industries since. He teaches courses focused on mechanical design, design process, and materials. Dr. Cyders is also an assistant director at the Center for Advanced Materials Processing. His research is split between engineering education and advanced materials testing, manufacturing, and performance, with a specific focus on metals.