Engineering is Awesome



The Air Force’s Vacuum-Powered Spider-Men

While the rest of us wait four more agonizing weeks for the theatrical premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man, student makers at Utah State University actually fabricated their own. Powered by vacuums, the so-called “Ascending Aggies” built their very own wall-crawler for an Air Force competition to help commandos scale tall buildings without stepping into a vehicle or picking up a grappling hook.

The team of engineering undergrads out-competed teams from 16 other universities to win the Air Force Research Laboratory’s annual Design Challenge, earning $50,000 in grant money and a chance to win double that. All for what they call a “Vertical Ascender,” shown in the video above, that can haul at least 300 pounds — however noisily.

Each Ascender is battery-powered and “designed to operate for about 30 minutes, which was several times the expected climb time,” Steven Hansen, the winning team’s faculty adviser, tells Danger Room. “For the competition, each university had one hour to train the Special Forces climbers and to get four climbers to the top of the 90-foot wall.”

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