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People often say your first year at Dartmouth can be a rollercoaster, but I didn't expect to be building a literal rollercoaster during my second week of classes! 

In my Engineering class this week (I'm taking ENGS 12: Design Thinking), we brainstormed, drafted, and built functional rollercoasters out of foam core, wood, rubber bands, construction paper, and hot glue in groups of four students. 


Our satanic pentagram in progress!

My group went through a 3-hour brainstorming session where we brainstormed potential themes for our rollercoaster. Design Thinking places a big emphasis on the brainstorming process — we've been talking about how Google and Pixar create strong teams and inclusive team culture in order to produce good ideas.

We went back and forth between a bunch of themes for our rollercoaster! Should we do a national park-themed rollercoaster? A spider-themed roller coaster?


My group collaborating in the Couch Lab!

We settled on heaven and hell and got to work constructing. Quickly, our coaster started coming to life, complete with a satanic pentagram, spiraling tunnel, slingshot, and rainbow-shaped bridge. We tested and tested our coaster, making small tweaks and structural changes until it worked perfectly and fit our theme.

The Couch Engineering Lab at Dartmouth is open 24 hours a day and is such a nice place to work on building projects. Dartmouth's engineering facilities are all grouped together on the west side of campus and are collectively called the Thayer School of Engineering.

ENGS 21 students work in the Couch Project Lab at the Thay… | Flickr

We presented our rollercoasters to our classmates on Thursday and it was so cool to see what other themes and design elements our classmates came up with. There was an under the-sea themed coaster, an apocalypse-themed poster (some liability with the bottomless pit in that one), and more!


under the sea themed coaster
An educational Under-The-Sea Coaster another group built! ENGS 12 students are so creative.

All in all, it was such a fun project and such an awesome introduction to engineering to Dartmouth!

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