2016 President's Report - page 20-21

Growing up in Shelburne, Vermont, Cyrus Schenck played with Legos, catapults and remote-control
airplanes. And he flew a real plane, getting his pilot’s license before he could drive a car. But as early
as age two, what the boy loved best was skiing.
Schenck’s interests converged at Clarkson, as a freshman in 2009 majoring in Aeronautical
Engineering. “It has great engineering and outdoor programs,” he says. “And it has snow.” His
education here set him on an entrepreneurial course that has left fresh tracks in the ski industry.
He calls it RENOUN. Spell his company name the other way (renown) and that’s what Schenck
has earned for his award-winning skis made to mimic a car’s suspension. No one else sells anything
like them.
It started in fall 2010, when Schenck and five Clarkson friends were headed again to Jay Peak for the
weekend. All engineering students, he, Cameron Jones, Ryan Ericson, Greg Bright, Bob Pelletier and Don
Lienau had often talked during the three-hour drive about “building a ski with better maneuverability,” he
recalls. “We realized it would take more than engineering principles to set ourselves apart.”
The following spring, they founded RENOUN, named with the help of Scrabble letters: “It sounded good,
and alluded to something way bigger than just us.”
That summer Schenck worked the window-washing business he had started as a high school senior.
Then he took a paid internship with General Electric, flying around the country installing monitoring devices
in gas turbines and hydroelectric dams.
One day in a Lake Tahoe Starbucks, he designed RENOUN’s first ski press, a machine that
laminates the layers of wood and other materials. By fall 2011, Schenck and the others started
working on a prototype, in a 12 x 20-foot room in Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation. They also
turned to the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship for help. “We were searching for a value proposition.”
Then in a Materials Science and Engineering class Schenck took, the
professor showed a graph of the ratio of stress to the rate of strain of a
particular polymer. It was the numbers that did it for Schenck. He thought of
Dr. Seuss’ Oobleck, which he remembered making out of cornstarch and water
as a kid, gooey until you worked it with your hands and then suddenly turning
hard. Oobleck and that polymer join many other non-Newtonian fluids. When
a force is applied to them, unlike Newtonian fluids, their viscosities change
dramatically, some more so than others.
Schenck found out that the classroom polymer had long been used for
reducing aircraft vibration and creating impact protection. He could just see it
cutting ski “chatter.” Wanting to give his all to RENOUN, over Christmas break
the junior Honors student informed Clarkson he wasn’t coming back.
“They wished me the best of luck and said if I ever wanted to return, I was
in, no questions asked,” he says.
A Rewarding Performance
Six engineering students dream up an idea to develop a snow ski
with better maneuverability.
But it took a materials engineering class to provide the value
proposition they needed.
by Claire Sykes
“The Shipley and Reh Centers at Clarkson really helped and
encouraged us to make our RENOUN project into a company.
They were also instrumental in the initial steps to getting a
patent for our technology, which is the lifeblood of RENOUN.”
Cyrus Schenck
20
President’s Report
I...,II-1,2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9,10-11,12-13,14-15,16-17,18-19 22-23,24-25,26-27,28-29,30
Powered by FlippingBook