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Tipping the scales with Mountaintop

During his final year at Lehigh, Penn Scott ’13 started Xiphias, a project aimed at influencing the design and engineering of high-performance automobiles. Working within the confines of a teammate’s small bedroom, Scott, Marcus Risland ’14, James Suh ’14, Miguel Roman ’13 and Robert Vargo ’14 researched automotive aerodynamics, support structures and powertrain systems to develop a professional-grade car design. They planned to then realize their design with 3D printing.

“We needed space,” says Scott. “We also needed the funding support in order to really just be able to do our work and proceed with doing some of the 3D printed prototypes because it’s still somewhat of an expensive technology.”

Fortunately for Scott and his teammates, they were soon able to take their project quite literally to new heights: at the top of South Mountain. Lehigh’s Mountaintop program, then in its first summer, provided abundant space inside a former Bethlehem Steel facility as well as the financial support needed to advance the project.

Xiphias went on to win several awards, including first place in the art and architecture division of Stratasys Ltd.’s 2014 Extreme Redesign 3D Printing Challenge.

“[Mountaintop] was critical not only to advancing the project but also to developing us professionally,” says Scott. “[Xiphias] was a tremendously successful project and it ended up being very instrumental in developing my career and [the careers of] the other guys that were on the team with me.”

Scott, an IDEAS (Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences) major at Lehigh, now holds a position at Ingersoll Rand, a diversified industrial manufacturer of brands including Club Car, Thermo King and Trane. As a participant in Ingersoll Rand’s Engineering Accelerated Development Program (ADP), Scott is developing diverse skill sets through challenging 12-to-18-month assignments in different Ingersoll Rand business units in a variety of locations. ADP helps recent college graduates establish a firm foundation for a successful career within the company. Scott seems well on his way.

Scott, like most Lehigh graduates, had been academically successful before his Mountaintop experience. He calls the program “a rare, strong differentiator.”

“I would say that I was not on track to take the direction I’m headed in now before Mountaintop. ... It’s a tremendously developmental experience, particularly because of some of the innovative technology that we decided to pursue and exhibit through our work,” he says.

Beyond the focused competency skills Scott acquired in, for example, mechanical analysis and product design during his time at Mountaintop, Scott cites the importance of the lessons he learned about strategy. The student-driven nature of Mountaintop, he says, helps students develop that skill.

“[There is a] very strong connection, a very strong relation,” says Scott of his Mountaintop experience and his current position. “Mountaintop put me personally on the right trajectory to get where I am now and obviously wherever I’m going in the future.”

Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.

-Kelly Hochbein is a writer with Lehigh University Media Relations.

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