2016 CEID Fellows Develop an 'EZ Ice' Rink Solution
Members of the fourth cohort of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science's Summer Design Fellowship made their final presentations last week. The 12 students in residence at the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design comprised five teams, each working on a specific project for eight weeks. The Summer Design Fellowship is unique in that student teams are provided the resources to create hardware and software solutions for a specific problem, as opposed to working on previously established research projects. It is the only fellowship specifically designed to assist "makers" at Yale. Here is the second part of our article on the final presentations.
Finding a patch of ice to skate on in the winter is harder than it sounds. So there's a definite benefit to owning your own rink. The EZ Ice team - Craig Wojtala '18 and Joe Bedford '18 - plans to design a rink that can be assembled in the backyard with no tools in less than an hour.
Wojtala said one of the main benefits of owning your own ice rink is convenience.
"If you like to skate or do any sports on ice, you can't just wake up and go skating," he said. Going to a public rink is one possibility, but it involves traveling and paying fees. And even then, you're limited to specific public skating times. Ponds are another possibility, but they're neither convenient nor always safe.
None of these are a concern, though, when you have your rink.
"It's fun for everyone – you don't have to be a big hockey player," Wojtala said, adding that he and Bedford envision the rink as similar to the convenience of having a basketball hoop in the driveway. They're also trying to keep the price range of their rink in the same ballpark as that of a basketball hoop.
Building an ice rink from scratch is an involved process, he said and "can become multiple daylong projects." It also means purchasing your own material. The product currently on the market that's most similar to EZ Ice requires hammering stakes into the ground. That means rink owners are limited to flat, grassy areas that are usually tough to work with in the winter.
EZ Ice, which relies on a bracket strap system without the use of stakes, can be placed on any hard surface - tennis courts or concrete patios, for instance.
"We wanted to make an ice rink that you could put together just about anywhere without tools," Wojtala said. He noted that all the parts snap easily together.
Wojtala and Bedford are still working out the details, but estimate that the entire package would retail for between $1,000 and $1,500 – significantly less expensive than the closest product on the market.