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Mad Max + Jet Ski = Awesome Invention for Calvin College Students

The magic of college is that it marries inspiration with application, encouraging the wildest imaginations and teaching skills to turn flights of fancy into reality.

Where else but college are students not only encouraged to dream of riding a snowmobile on water, but given the knowledge to make it happen?

That’s what’s happened to four Calvin College students whose senior engineering design project is getting buzz worldwide.

It’s called the Jet Blade. Think of it as Mad Max’s answer to a jet ski.

It’s part personal watercraft and part snowmobile. But it’s all awesome. And it’s something that has to be seen to believe.

The students — Zak DeVries, Nico Ourensma, Josh Vanderbyl, and Ryan DeMeester — took their love of outdoors and wedded it into an out-of-this-world idea that has attracted attention from websites worldwide and the Discovery Channel Canada.

The contraption has a 650 cc engine and two skis in front and one in back, giving the feel and control of a snowmobile.

“A traditional jet ski, when you’re riding it around, typically you’ll sit on it, like a Sea-Doo style, and those actually turn by having the jet in the rear, directing the watercraft in the direction it needs to go,” DeVries said.

“Ours is unique in the fact that the skis in the front actually do the turning of the vehicle, and the jet pump in the rear is stationary. So it gives you a really different feel when you’re riding it on the water.”

Not surprisingly, the project got an A. Now, the students have a Jet Blade website, and they’re looking for investors to bring a similar vehicle to market.

Who knows? Smaller dreams have changed the world, and Calvin College and the 14 other top independent colleges and universities in Michigan take pride in nourishing the tiniest dreams and cultivating them into greatness.

That’s because helping students fulfilling their paths and passion is what they do.

The schools emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools.

With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.


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