The longboard project

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The longboard project

The challenge: to develop an innovative piece of equipment for an unconventional sporting pursuit, and get it ready for the market

17 master's students on a three-semester postgraduate programme at Reutlingen University's ESB Business School have been tasked with developing a fresh new type of equipment for an unconventional sports activity – taking it all the way from an idea to a market-ready product. This will require an initial series of 100 to be made ready for sale in the ESB Logistics Learning Factory, designed and set up specifically to accommodate projects like this. The students participated in a contest to come up with the best idea, and it was a longboard – a type of long skateboard with larger, softer wheels – that emerged victorious.
Longboarding is in vogue, combining speed, concentration, adrenaline as well as elements of Formula 1, surfing and skateboarding – and all infused with the unique feeling that this gravity-driven sport provides. Riders enjoy the sense of freedom they get from a board measuring one and a half metres in length, while remaining just 10 cm off the ground.
The students are engaged in what is known as a "Project Master" course, forming part of the MSc in Operations Management – and all chose to specialise in production in their second semester. The project requires them to develop the idea underpinning the longboard and bring it to life, designing it and then carrying out all the assembly steps by hand in the school's self-devised factory. But that's not all: the longboard also has to feature something new. The team has come up with two ideas: a brake that is suitable for retrofitting and a detachable stabilisation aid, with the brake also set to be available separately on the market for retrofitting purposes.
Not only is the project teaching students how to deal with tasks, problems, solutions and compromise of all kinds, it is teaching them in a way that would be impossible to learn from a book. They are also encountering an exciting mix of disciplines through tackling technical details that their bachelor's studies did not delve into.
Of course, the team members have been trying out the fruits of their labours themselves, one reason being in order to test the longboard. This has required them to develop methods of measuring those quality criteria that are quantifiable. One example is a test in which a board is attached with an extra weight to a car and then pulled over a certain distance under load: this produces useful data relating to abrasion.
norelem in the project:

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