With that kind of emphasis on education and enjoyment, Weaver says, he feels a sense of responsibility when teaching young adults about the nuances of building composite skateboards – resin infusion, closed molding techniques, gelcoat finishes, fiber orientation, waste reduction, problem solving and more.
“We hope we’re educating future composite technicians,” Weaver says. “Many educators are looking for a composite project they can do with their students successfully and quickly. The skateboard kit pulls together multiple processes in a documented package. It’s designed as an all-inclusive way to teach resin infusion in a way that’s fun and cool.”
Some teachers who are experienced in composites have added skateboard kit-building to their curriculum. Others build their own tooling to their designs. Students at one college have even begun designing their own laminate, he says, adding that the kit could be used to train entry-level employees in industrial jobs.
To identify schools willing to collaborate with Fiberglass Supply, Weaver attends technical education and teacher conferences. “Some instructors figure their students will get hooked simply by the coolness of building a skateboard, but they also realize it will give them an opportunity to talk about things like math and physics,” he says. “We help them frame things in a way a 15-year-old might better understand. For example, we might note that the 15 psi of pressure needed for the project is the equivalent to a 33-foot wall of water or about three vans.”
That kind of perspective has enabled Fiberglass Supply to capture more than just students’ attention. Last year, the firm won an Award for Composites Excellence (ACE) from ACMA in the Process Innovation Award category for its skateboard kit.
Weaver roots for young skateboard builders to succeed, he says, but also appreciates when students make mistakes. “I want these projects to be successful, but part of me is torn because we learn best from failures,” he says. “Some students invariably are going to get sloppy and cut corners. We want them all to make a great skateboard, but more than that, we want to teach them the value of paying attention to detail.”
By doing so, Weaver and the high-spirited Fiberglass Supply team aren’t just having fun. They’re encouraging the next wave of composites pros.