U.S. Ski Team puts CU students to work
When the U.S. Ski Team selects their skis for the 2010 Olympics, it might be a little easier, thanks to five CU students.
Five CU mechanical engineering seniors began work on their senior project for the U.S. Ski Team this semester, creating a device to test which skis will go faster.
“Right now skiers decide what skis to use by to putting on different skis and ‘feeling’ if it’s faster,” said Chris Melhauser, a member of the senior project team.
The device they are creating will test the wax and grinding to determine the speed of the ski by testing friction on ice and snow.
The team for the senior project consists of captain Brett Bergdolt along with Melhauser, Brett Andrus, Joseph Graham and John McHugh.
The group tests its project at the recreation center ice arena every Tuesday morning, but expects to have it ready for testing on snow at the Eldora Ski Area early next semester.
“The goal is to test different skis, waxes and grindings on all different conditions,” Melhauser said.
The device is a black plastic box that hooks onto a housing and slips into ski bindings to test ski friction on snow. The box is packed with instruments and a computer to analyze the collected data after each run.
Remote control pulley systems control the speed and direction.
“The hardest part is that the difference is so small,” McHugh said.
According to faculty advisor Jack Zable, the housing and basic electronics were created by earlier projects.
“The first effort was an independent study project a year and a half ago,” Zable said. “Last year it was part of a project for a semester, they got some electronics and pulling devices working. The current team has improved the project, worked out the bugs.”
The current team created the programming, added the instrumentation and added circuitry.
The device currently tests skis at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, but the team hopes to make it go even faster.
“At higher speeds the coefficient of friction is a little bit higher,” Zable said.
The current challenge is to get the motors that pull the device to run smoothly. After that is fixed, the team can work on getting the same data with multiple runs on identical conditions. Zable said he expects the pulley device problem to be solved by next week.
The team received U.S. Ski Team gear in return for all their work on the project.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Arwyn Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org.