In the winter of 2013, Matt Michaud ’02 took a break from building Sandwich Tech’s carving skis
in his workshop in Littleton, NH to talk with a group of WMS students who were part of the “Carving up Equations to Carve the Slopes: The Math of Ski and Snowboard Design” Field Course. Listening with rapt attention was then sophomore, Tyler Randazzo ‘15. Fast forward a year and Tyler, written proposal in hand, had a plan…Sandwich Tech Intern
. Tyler approached WMS and Matt with his idea – he’d learn about running a small business and also custom design and build a pair of skis; Sandwich Tech would get help in an area where they could use an extra set of hands. And with that, Tyler, Matt and his wife, Katie, embarked on a year and a half long educational relationship, mentorship and friendship. WMS took some time to listen to what Matt and Tyler had to say to each other about their time working together.
Matt: Tyler, your Internship Proposal outlined some pretty big goals, so we extended your time with Sandwich Tech to provide time for you to accomplish a lot of what you’d hoped for. What surprised you the most along the way?
Tyler: It sounds sort of cliché, but everything took a lot longer than I thought it would! There is a lot of complicated math and computer software use behind ski design and while I really like math and science, I was starting from ground zero with CAD 2006. You were incredibly patient in terms of teaching me how to use this software. I had to work much harder than I thought I would to learn the concepts and skills. You also had to teach me how to use all of the machines in the workshop, things like the ski press, the band saw and planer. Actually, I think I picked-up the machine shop stuff pretty quickly. The math started to make a lot more sense to me after I’d spent some time in the shop to see the creative process in action and became part of the actual build.
Matt: It’s funny that you think it took you a long time to pick up CAD! I thought you learned that pretty quickly. It’s important to remember that you weren’t just learning how to build a pair of our skis; you were designing your own ski from a blank slate – that’s complex.
Tyler: Well, as you know, I can be a little hard on myself! I am proud of all that I learned and of what I accomplished – I love the final product. I liked that some of my work with you was very academic and other parts involved working with my hands. I still can’t believe that I was part of helping you and Katie build your ski press machine last winter. It was so cool to be involved with making a machine that I then got to use for my own skis. I also learned so much from you guys about the materials choices involved with ski building – there are so many different considerations when selecting the appropriate woods and plastics. Looking back on this experience, I realize that you and Katie put a lot of time and energy into working with me. What made you agree to work with a high school kid on something like this?
(laughs) Working with you really helped us hone our ski-construction explanation. It’s kind of like studying for an engineering exam…if you want to pass, study – but if you want to ace it, teach the material to other people. Working with someone new to the field really forces you to unpack the confusing parts. It was a great experience for us to go through and our business is strong because of it. I also want to be sure to mention how much you helped us out on the communications and marketing side of things. You set up the Sandwich Tech News
page on our website and wrote some really great articles. A lot goes into writing copy for a branded website. You picked up the site optimization strategy really quickly. Your writing is great and we were especially thrilled with how your New Hampshire Public Radio post came out. You hit lots of important keywords and anchor text in a succinct post. I almost never needed to edit your work.
Thank you to both Matt and Tyler for talking with WMS about their experience. Together, they built a fantastic internship. Tyler’s final project and presentation were exemplary and it’s great to see the White Mountain network in action!