Up Up and Away
Students build suit that could give soldiers Spider-Man climbing skills.
A team of engineering students at Utah State University has designed what could be the next hi-tech device for special forces military.
The whole idea was to find a way for soldiers to climb any wall without rope or hooks.
They also wanted the soldiers to be quick and be able to get to the top in less than a minute.
What these engineering students made is a climbing suit unlike anything you've ever seen.
A couple of high-powered vacuums and a lot of serious thinking and planning allowed the whole thing to work.
"We spent all of last fall semester, designing the system," said Steven Daniels, a Mechanical Engineering Student.
"Or, if you wanna talk superheroes, maybe you can consider Spider-Man," added Garrett Vaughan.
The U.S. Air Force gave $20,000 dollars to several universities around the country and about two semesters to get it done, and these USU students, who now call themselves the Ascending Aggies, created the only successful device.
"We had no problem: it sucked just fine. Probably bad way to say it, but...," Vaughan laughed.
This isn't your average vacuum backpack, however.
Each side pulls 4.5 pounds of force per square inch, all powered by batteries.
Foamy ends conform to the shape of the wall.
Covering the feet is a type of vinyl liner for traction.
It's not perfect, but it works.
"It's heavier than we wanted, there's some issues, but it works. We've tested it as much as we could," Daniels said.
As the winning inventors in the nationwide competition, they'll get their chance to refine this climbing suit and help turn it into something that could be used by our nation's military in the near future.
The Air Force will award the USU engineering department a $50,000 dollar grant.
They will now compete for another $100,000 to improve the device.
Ultimately, professors said it could have a wide range of uses, from rescues to even more stealthy covert operations.