Ideal for universities near skiing, in Utah, Vermont, and Colorado, the University of Nevada hopes to prompt the initiation of ski building courses within engineering departments nationwide with the introduction of Ski Building 101. Tactfully sparking the interest of young undergraduate students, avid skier, founder of a web-based instructional on how to build skis, and university professor, Kam K. Leang, hopes to tackle the emerging complications in nanotechnology through a practical medium, such as building skis. “We want students to get enthused about mechanical engineering, to see the possibilities and potential of nanotechnology,” Leang said. “We’ve built a ski press and a couple pairs of prototype skis. I expect students will have something remarkable to ski on before the end of the ski season.”
The class has already designed two sets of skis. One folds up to fit in your carry-on luggage. The other uses honeycomb-shaped particle dampeners to make the ski chatter less than the teeth of a soon-to-be hypothermia victim. Leang’s class won’t use the typical p-tex, wood core, and metal edge designs; in fact, that may lead to failing the course. “We’ll integrate nanomaterials into the construction to improve performance and use the student’s skills in mechanical engineering to be inventive with ski design,” says Leang. Think Lib Tech’s magne traction brilliance at a molecular level.
Skier performance is elevated every year with innovations, such as rocker, twin tip, and increased width underfoot. I remember the way my skiing changed with the originality of the Spatula. If these courses are offered at universities around the country, we can expect one overzealous ski bum going through the motions as an engineering student (only to graduate and get a night job in order to chase the snow) will create a new ski that will improve existing designs.
UNR’s program is possible through a $200,000 grant through the National Science Foundation’s Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education in Engineering program.