One of the things you’ll notice immediately when you arrive at Florida Polytechnic University is an abundance of skateboards. They’re so popular, in fact, the Student Government Association had to install skateboard holders in classrooms and common areas across campus to contain them. The variety of skateboards is as diverse as the student population, from smooth cruising longboards to zippy little “penny” decks.
Of course, this being Florida Poly, even skateboards are subject to technological upgrades. Like all students, Marshall Bassford had to propose a project for his Intro to Design class. Marshall is fascinated by wireless technology, so he asked to create a bluetooth-controlled longboard. His project was approved and funded, so he set to work building the necessary parts and developing the app that would control the board. The first time the wheels spun under his command, the board was actually plugged into his laptop.
“I looked a little ridiculous going down the street holding the laptop,” Marshall says with a laugh.
Continued improvements, including a 3D printed motor cover, now make it possible for Marshall to steer and accelerate the longboard directly from his phone. He expects future improvements to include a pressure-sensitive killswitch in case he falls off the board. The opportunity to get hands-on and explore a subject he’s interested in during his freshman year was encouraging for Marshall.
“I’m excited to see where we go with this,” Marshall says.
Here’s what other students are riding at Florida Poly.
Wyatt Roach enjoys the cool breeze he catches on the short cruiser board he received from a friend.
“The small boards go faster, so I like to zip around the longboards.”
Skateboards are perfect for getting around a school of Florida Poly’s size. It’s just far enough between buildings and parking that walking can take some time, but not so big you need a bicycle, explains Jeremy Eudy.
“It was kind of surprising when I got here and saw everyone on skateboards. But I like this side of Poly.”
Riley says skateboards have really taken off in Florida Poly’s second year of classes. Newbies are usually spotted when they learn the hard way skateboards don’t react well to sand and gravel patches. For Riley, smaller size suits his need for portability and speed.
“This is really the easier way to get around.”
Isaac has been riding a deck well before he arrived at Florida Poly. It’s a nice change to be in a place where skating is expected and welcomed, says Isaac, who got in trouble in high school for skateboarding.
“It hardly seemed fair,” he says with a laugh. “I was late for class.”