Rowan Rhinos Taking to the Slopes

Rowan Rhinos Taking to the Slopes

The Rhinos have arrived. That?s ?Rhinos? as in SnoRhinos, the footrest retrofit for ski lifts created by three College of Engineering student-entrepreneurs at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.
Engineering Students? Device a Plus for Snowboarders, Skiers

The Rhinos have arrived.

That?s ?Rhinos? as in SnoRhinos, the footrest retrofit for ski lifts created by three College of Engineering student-entrepreneurs at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.

Jeff Gladnick, 21, of Newark, DE; Matt Eberhardt, 21, of Red Bank, NJ; and Pete Boyle, 22, of Newton, NJ, are creators of SnoRhino, a device that will allow snowboarding enthusiasts to peacefully co-exist with skiers on chairlifts. The team started working on the project last year as part of an engineering clinic at the college, and this year the students are manufacturing the device for which they have a patent pending.

Easy to install on existing chairlifts in under a minute and not requiring structural modifications to the chairlifts, SnoRhino features rests that are perpendicular to existing ski rests. The SnoRhino rests allow snowboarders a place to comfortably insert their snowboards without colliding with skis or leaving their snowboards dangling in the air on trips up mountains. The SnoRhino enables one or two snowboarders or one snowboarder and a skier to ride a chairlift comfortably. It also protects ski and snowboard equipment from damage due to the position snowboarders are forced to sit in on current chairlifts. (The SnoRhino also is designed to fit three-, four-, and even six-person chairlifts.)

?We do a lot of demonstrations at ski resorts, and almost every snowboarder and skier who has used SnoRhino has loved it. It is great to talk to and to get feedback from all age groups -- boarders and skiers alike. Because of this we have been able to develop an extremely versatile and universal SnoRhino,? Boyle said. ?Because of our engineering education we were able to choose a material and design that was best suited for the SnoRhino?s application.?

The team started working on the prototype in September 2001 and applied for a patent in December. They have incorporated as UpHill Enterprises.

The students developed their product as a clinic project in the College of Engineering at Rowan. Clinics allow students, usually in interdisciplinary groups, to do hands-on work on a variety of projects. Gladnick, Eberhardt and Boyle have used $2,500 from Rowan Engineering?s Venture Capital Fund (contributed by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance [NCIIA]), for initial work, including purchasing a used chairlift from Jack Frost Mountain in the Poconos.

?Rowan refused to let us fail,? Gladnick said. ?Not only did the college give us access to state-of- the-art prototyping and testing facilities, but more importantly, it gave us access to experts in fields of business, engineering, and marketing/public relations who went out of their way to ensure our success.?

The NCIIA awarded the students $8,375 to help get their product off the ground. In a letter confirming the award, the NCIIA noted, ?The reviewers think the proposal describes a good use of program resources to bring a needed product to market.? The SnoRhino team has 15 shareholders in UpHill Enterprises, and the firm is valued at $400,000.

?I think it's amazing how much I've learned in the last couple months. I never realized how much work having a business really is,? Eberhardt said. ?But I guess I'm just lucky because it might be a lot of work, but working on the SnoRhino is so much fun. Where else can you work and snowboard at the same time??

Gladnick, Boyle and Eberhardt are among a select group of students who will showcase their inventions at Boston?s Museum of Science During ?March Madness for the Mind? sponsored by the museum and NCIIA. (See separate release, which follows.) This one-day exhibit spotlights the most innovative inventions of 15 teams of student scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs from around the nation.

(NOTE TO REPORTERS: You can learn more about SnoRhino by visiting Interviews can be arranged with any/all of the students. Additionally, we can ship you photos of SnoRhino upon request.)