Design

Welcoming Freshmen With a Homemade Roller Coaster

by Aarian Marshall

September 9, 2015
via twitter user Mike Foster

The crunch of leaves, the scent of fresh notebooks, the screams of human crash test dummies as they hurtle down a homemade wooden roller coaster. Welcome to back-to-school celebrations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where engineering students at the school’s East Campus dorm like to do things a little bit differently.

via twitter user David L. Ryan

According to Atlas Obscura, the East Campus construction of a lumber coaster has been a fall tradition since the mid-aughts. Each year’s assembly takes about a week. Here’s 2010’s edition:

And here’s some poor schmuck hurtling down 2014’s...at night:

Last year’s coaster was meant to have an internal loop, as its builders wrote in a blog post detailing their design and construction process. Unfortunately, the pesky grown-ups got in the way.

“One of the steps to getting the coaster approved by MIT and Cambridge was going through MIT's Environment, Health and Safety department (EHS),” the engineering students wrote. “Basically, EHS said No Upside-Down People.”

So yes, that thing really is safe. Each year’s coaster design must be approved by professional engineers (read: ones that have graduated already) and then submitted to the city of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department for another rubber stamp.

via twitter user MIT

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Welcoming Freshmen With a Homemade Roller Coaster