College of Engineering Unit:
Originating roughly 6000 years ago in central Asia, snowshoes are characterized in their most basic form by a deck attached to the user’s foot that provides flotation in snowy conditions. Snowshoes had typically been used as a means of transportation prior to the post WWII era until innovation from the 1950’s to the 1990’s shifted snowshoeing to a recreational sport, causing an explosion in its growth both demographically and in the size of the user base. According to the Snowsports Industries of America, there are a total of 5.5 million users in the snowshoe market as of the 2020 winter season.
There are still problem areas that have been largely left unaddressed and generally accepted as an inconvenience to the user while snowshoeing. These two major inconveniences are descending down a slope and traversing a side slope, with each providing their own challenges. Descending downhill or traversing side hill disrupts the users’ center of gravity and leaves them to choose between two equally bad options. The user must either restore their center of gravity at the cost of inducing a strain in their legs caused by the rigidity inherent to the snowshoe, or allow their center of gravity to be thrown off, making them unstable.
This project aims to alleviate these inconveniences through an innovative design that culminates in a more enjoyable experience to the user. According to Snowsports Industries of America, 2.1 million of the 5.5 million active snowshoe users were new or returning participants and retaining these new users is paramount to the longevity of the sport. Success of the project will not only help bolster the snowshoeing industry, but will also help bolster each of the individual stakeholders goals.
Project Communication Piece(s):