Technology

Watch As Students At MIT Test Their Handmade Roller Coaster

Ten years ago, the East Campus dormitory at MIT started a tradition of building a wooden roller coaster with the help of incoming freshmen as part of rush week. (This is not a very surprising thing to me; my brother’s engineering school had a competition every year to see which house could best motorize their lawn furniture.)

The very first coaster was called “The Ride,” and the last previous coaster was called the “Reverse Cowgirl.” I assume it was uncomfortable and unsatisfying for half the students there.

Unfortunately the city of Cambridge — and it only took six years — caught on to this, and in 2010 demanded the projects (including an “outdoor freshman lounge” called “Fort Sexy Time”) cease, unless proper building permits were obtained. Most of what I know about technical universities I learned from Real Genius, so I assume the annual year-end project is constructing a giant laser to blow up a house full of popcorn.

The roller coaster project hasn’t taken place since 2010, but this August, a group of engineering students decided to resurrect the tradition. The plans were just put online last week. According to one of the students in charge, Ben Katz, the original design called for a loop-de-loop in the middle, but responsible more-adult type people said no. Ben’s fuzzy on if they actually got the necessary building permits. I strongly advise that Ben and the rest of his crew heed the warnings of the forty year old guy living in your closet, as that dude no doubt knows how important safety is when erecting load-bearing structures on campus.

Katz does outline in detail at his blog the final design and construction of this year’s coaster.

Students would have a week to build the entire structure, and the labor skill of the students and incoming freshmen who would be doing much of the construction would range from extremely competent to which direction does the drill point?

Here’s what it was like to ride it:

God speed, freshmen. May the rest of your days be filled with student beauticians and skating rinks inside the dorm.

Via Laughing Squid

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