On Friday, April 1st, ConVal welcomed Professor Niko Tracksdorf from the University of Connecticut to give presentations and conduct workshops on the physics of roller coaster design with several classes. AP Physics (Greg Morris), Engineering (Karen Fabianski), and German classes (Cindi Hodgdon) participated in this unique learning opportunity.
Professor Trackdorf is part of the EuroTech International Engineering Program at the University of Connecticut. EuroTech is a dual-degree program in Engineering and German that culminates in a BS degree in Engineering and a BA degree in German Studies. The final year of the five-year program is spent in Germany working for such companies as Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen — or for the premiere companies in the worldwide roller coaster industry, such as Gerstlauer, Bolliger, Maurer Söhne, Zierer, or Schwarzkopf.
Like the program at UConn, the workshops at ConVal were conducted entirely in German to give students an insight into what it would be like to work for an internationally-based company. The goal of the workshop was to construct a working roller coaster, simulated by a plastic tube, using only the materials provided by Professo Trackdorf. Every action in the roller coaster build, from design to execution, was done in German. Tools and materials — including terms for “screwdriver,” “metal support,” and “drill” — were labeled exclusively in German, with language students translating for the students in the engineering and physics classes.
If you want to get a sense of what this multidisciplinary workshop was like, click on this video link.