An interdisciplinary team works to develop skis that could be used year round

Wouldn’t it be fun to ski when there’s no snow outside?

A team of economics and mechanical engineering majors worked to develop a product that would recreate the feeling of skiing on terrain available year-round.

The design team with its prototype.

The design team with its prototype

The “Free Ski” represents an open-ended design problem requiring students to design, build, test, and market a product that could be sold in the “real world.”  The project is offered through Lafayette’s IDEAL Center (Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership), which brings together engineering and liberal arts students to work on innovative solutions to real-world issues.

“The main goal of this project is to develop a prototype that meets user-based design constraints through analysis and testing techniques,” says project leader Tobias Rossman, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “The students also have the opportunity to experience a product development cycle that progresses from an initial needs and market-based analysis through full prototype implementation and testing.”

According to Rossman, one of the greatest strengths of a multidisciplinary design team is “allowing engineers to work side by side with designers of any background to develop product concepts and specifications.” Having diverse perspectives involved in design resulted in better aesthetics, ergonomics, and functionality for the product.

The team spent the fall semester designing a prototype that simulates snow-skiing on pavement. The spring semester focused on completing a market analysis and redesigning the product to better suit the needs of the target market.

“I’ve always had an interest in how a product is brought into the marketplace, everything from the patent process to marketing and distribution strategies,” says John Floyd ’14, an economics graduate. “The IDEAL team seemed like the perfect way for me to further my education on those fronts.”

1 Comment

  1. Mitchell Abramo says:

    so does it work? Is there a video of someone riding it?

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