A New Community Challenge — UVM Winter Sportec

snowboarderVermont ski areas join UVM's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) in a challenge to inventive people everywhere: develop new ways to use Vermont's most beloved natural resources — snow and ice.

"We coined the name 'Winter Sportec' to link winter sports with technology," says Mike Rosen, coordinator of design education in the School of Engineering, who has served on the work group for this activity over the past year. "Our goal was to smoke out accomplished engineers, students from all disciplines, and would-be inventors throughout Vermont and the known universe by baiting them with an irresistible challenge: create new ways to play on snow and ice."

This initiative was enthusiastically endorsed by CEMS Dean Domenico Grasso. "Vermont has such a passion for winter sport and a tradition of creativity. Let's put those together and start something special," Grasso says.

How to participate

The purpose of UVM Winter Sportec is to promote innovative and sustainable concepts in sports technology, help grow the Vermont winter sport industry, encourage creativity, and find new ways to have fun!

Creative people are invited to invent something for use by individuals, pairs or groups to take advantage of the beautiful Vermont winter season; recreationally or competitively; on snow or ice; on flat or sloped terrain. All are welcome to take part — individuals and teams, middle-school to middle-nineties, those affiliated with schools, companies or organizations, and those who aren't.

Inventors need to get to work now and finish their projects by March 1, 2008.

Contestants will bring their prototypes, poster displays and test videos to the UVM Winter Sportec Exhibit on Saturday, March 1, 2008, at the University Mall in South Burlington to compete for prizes.

A panel of judges composed of representatives from UVM, ski resorts, VSAA and NDAA will judge submissions. Prizes include lift tickets, stays at Vermont resorts and much more.

For more information and to register, go to UVM Winter Sportec.

Jen Butson, director of public affairs for the Vermont Ski Area Association (VSAA) and member of the UVM Winter Sportec work group, hopes the initiative will be a vehicle to help educate youth and families on the health, entertainment, and social value of winter as a season and as a state of mind. VSAA represents 19 alpine locations and 30 nordic ski areas statewide.

Other members of the coordinating group include: Mary Cox, lecturer in the CEMS Department of Mathematics; Renee Bellack, senior principle systems engineer from General Dynamics; Tom Tailer, outreach consultant for UVM CEMS and teacher at Mt. Abraham High School; John Canning, CEO of the Physicians Computer Company; and Dawn Densmore, director of Outreach & Public Relations for UVM CEMS.

Patrick Standen, president of the board for the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association (NDAA), also joined the committee and will be one of the judges on March 1, 2007 at the University Mall Exhibit. "Exploring possibilities that allow greater participation in winter sports for those who are physically challenged is a great undertaking," says Standen. "Meeting the needs of the physically challenged at the onset of the creation of a new winter sport is rare, but very important."