Success Story

Penn State Partners with Gilson Snowboard to Pioneer Smart Snowboard Technology

Nick Gilson, CEO of snowboard and ski manufacturing company Gilson, snaps a picture of a student group's proposed use case and mobile application for the company's forthcoming "smart" snowboard. Image: Jessica Hallman

Penn State Students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology are pioneering “smart” snowboard technology with snowboard and ski manufacturing company Gilson, and world leader in power products and piezo-based actuators, sensors and devices Qortek.

As part of Steve Hayne’s IST 412 class, students are developing the software that will support the first smart snowboards. The smart snowboards have sensors embedded in them to measure speed, force, location, temperature and barometric pressure. This data can be used to locate a rider in an avalanche or inactivity after a large enough impact could trigger an emergency alert.

“The student groups have been developing impressive solutions to the software needs,” said Nick Gilson, CEO of Gilson. “We have the hardware in fully functioning form, and the students are bridging the gap between the technology and the user.”

When Gilson and Qortek approached Fortin last fall seeking support in developing an application for their snowboard hardware innovation, Fortin worked with Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST, to match them with Haynes’ “Engineering of Complex Software Systems” course.

“There are so many benefits to this type of collaboration,” Fortin told Penn State News. “Having a real world project is huge for the students. They get to interact with the company, understand their business needs, and work on a project with real constraints. This is the best type of project that a student can…

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