QL+ Program Manager:

Kristie Yelinek



Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the Commonwealth of Virginia’s most comprehensive university and research institution, Virginia Tech offers 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programs serving over 33,000 students. Through a combination of its three missions of learning, discovery, and engagement, Virginia Tech continually strives to accomplish its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).


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Current Projects

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Completed Project List

Para bobsled launcher


Para-athletes that are part of the International Bobsleigh Skeleton Federation (IBSF) require an alternate starting method for the launch phase of a bobsled run. A current bobsled launcher exists to create an even push and start time, but this launcher is for competition use only. It is difficult to transport the competition launcher between training camps and it is too expensive to build multiple. The practice launcher should be easy to move and ship back and forth between the two American bobsled tracks; Lake Placid, NY and Park City, UT. To fill the need for a training launcher, the team partnered with Quality of Life + (QL+) to design and create a safe, cost effective, portable, and fully functional practice launcher to meet the customers’ needs. After generating multiple concepts, the team chose a design called “Matter of a Pinion.” This concept utilizes a motor to rotate a pinion that pushes forward a gear rack and actuating arm. To ensure the launcher would be able to provide enough force, calculations were performed. These analyses influenced the length of the pushing arm, pinion size, and motor selection. The actuating arm is made of a hollow square 2” x 2” x 0.125” Aluminum 6063 tube, with an electromagnet to attach to the back of the bobsled. The steel helical gear rack is attached to the top of the actuating arm. To propel the gear rack, a 1.5 inch pinion is rotated by a 5 horsepower motor. The motor can provide a speed of 1750 RPM with an accelerating torque of 180 in-lbs. A variable frequency drive controls the speed of the motor and communicates with the operator’s hand controller. The hand controller contains both a remote and dead man switch for safety. To ensure the gear rack fully resets between launches, limit switches were implemented. A welded Aluminum 6063 frame is covered by ABS paneling and weather stripping to protect all components. On the outside of the enclosure, there are handles and wheels for portability, as well as a height adjuster to ensure the launcher is level. After completing the design and build phases, the launcher was tested. The launcher meets 93% of the target specifications. Overall, the team is confident that the launcher will provide a launch similar to the competition launcher, and will enhance the para-athletes training and performance.

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