Peter Visscher typifies the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. And, he adds, “Discomfort is its mother-in-law.”
Visscher, who loves snowmobiling, developed a bad back a few years ago. “It was either come up with a better suspension system or stop riding snowmobiles,” says the inventor, currently a fourth-year Engineering student at The University of Western Ontario.
Visscher built several prototypes of a new suspension system that makes riding a snowmobile easier on the body and much more fun. “The improved suspension design increases the performance of the snowmobile while making the vehicle easier to control, softer on the body and more fun to ride,” he says.
An additional strength of the new design is that it makes the suspension adjustable for each rider’s preferences, and the latest iteration even has a computer-controlled shock absorber so snowmobilers can change the suspension while they ride.
The University’s Industry Liaison office has helped Visscher apply for a patent, currently pending, and is incubating the concept at Western with the help of the Ontario Centres of Excellence.
Visscher is readying his invention for the manufacturing industry and says the new system should provide economic advantages as it uses only one shock instead of two.
Because Visscher’s design is able to handle multiple riding styles, manufacturers also won’t have to create completely different suspensions to accommodate the different segments of the snowmobile market.
Visscher says he wouldn’t have reached this point without the help of Western’s Industry Liaison office. “They really helped me through the process.” While he awaits the patent, Visscher is keeping busy by creating yet another new design – which will do double-duty as his fourth-year design project – and is also busy building his new company, Wild North Design.
“I’m not sure yet if we’ll commercialize the product through my company, or if we will license it to another group,” he says.
Either way, as graduation approaches, Visscher has shown that he’s already well on track for success.