Background Image

News & Events


Clarkson Students' Invention To Be Displayed At Smithsonian Museum

Two Clarkson University graduate students are exhibiting an invention which has the potential to revolutionize the trucking industry as part of “March Madness for the Mind” – an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which spotlights the most innovative inventions of student scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs from around the nation.

The “March Madness” exhibit will be open to the public on Wednesday, March 7, at the National Museum of American History. Fifteen teams of student inventors from institutions such as Stanford University, University of Colorado, MIT, and University of Virginia will display prototypes of their inventions.

The trailer drag reduction device, developed by Clarkson Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering graduate students Jamison Coon and Matthew Pausley, under the guidance of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Assistant Professor Kenneth Visser, is a box-like structure which reduces drag on a tractor trailer, thus improving fuel efficiency.

The typical square trailer back wastes energy because it creates a large drag as the vehicle moves. The drag reduction device makes the vehicle more aerodynamic. Models were tested in the Clarkson wind tunnel last year, and a prototype with fiberglass sides and a canvas top and bottom was constructed in spring 2000. Preliminary testing on a 6,000-mile cross-country trip indicated fuel reduction of 10 percent.

“This research project can change the face of the trucking industry by improving fuel efficiency, as well as providing environmental benefits,” says Coon. “To be involved in something with such far-reaching implications is very exciting.”

Coon and Pausley will set up an exhibit including models of the trailer drag reduction device and a video describing the project. The exhibit is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7, and will also be set up during a private reception for the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance conference, which is happening concurrently.

The event is sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), an initiative supporting faculty and students who believe that invention and innovation are critical to American higher education. The NCIIA provides grant support to colleges around the country for the creation of student invention teams, courses, projects, networking opportunities and resources for faculty and student innovators. “March Madness” is part of the annual meeting of the NCIIA, held on March 6-9 in Virginia. For more information on NCIIA, visit the Web site at

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed