Nearly 3,000 athletes from around the world are gathering in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics and are focused on their respective winter sports. Meanwhile, back stateside, a focused group of University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) engineering students sledded with a purpose.
At the opening night for the 2017-2018 sledding season at Ober Gatlinburg, a sledding and snow tubing park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, students debuted and tested three prototype sleds they had designed with support and mentoring from the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
Although it may have brought back nostalgia of younger days, this event was anything but child’s play. Instead, this project was a holistic lesson in prototype development from start to finish and challenged students to innovate through classroom application and hands-on experience. Under the partnership with IACMI, students are able to work with and learn from industry experts, and through this project, students had opportunity to work with a variety of different composite materials, including carbon fiber, basalt fiber, and glass fiber, gaining new exposure in the field of composites.
While the majority of today’s recreational sleds are made of traditional plastic, sleds made of composite materials can be lighter in weight and more durable – two extremely important characteristics for evaluating sled performance. The engineering students involved in this project gained knowledge in every step of product development including evaluating materials, working with manufacturing and molding equipment, using design software, and validating products. The partnership with IACMI on this project meant that students were able to work with and learn from industry experts and gain new exposure to the field of composites.
IACMI members involved in this project include Mafic, Ashland Performance Materials, Huntsman, Polynt, Chomarat, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Magnum Venus Products. Read more about the sled prototype project here.