Enterprise Creates Electronic Broomball Scoreboards

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor, Tech Today

Broomball is a big deal at Michigan Tech: 1,400 students compete on 240 teams that play 1,000 games a season, sliding around on outdoor ice rinks chasing a ball with brooms in hand.

It’s only fitting that the biggest game on campus should have some big, high-tech scoreboards.

“We can do that,” said the Robotics Enterprise. The student-run team began planning in April 2012, designing over the summer and assembling the scoreboards in time for this winter’s season.

Recently, Charlie Rysenga, project leader, was busy connecting pieces of the 4-foot by 8-foot metallic monsters with pop rivets.

“I’ll use about a thousand by the time I’m done,” he says. The third-year electrical engineering major from Berkley, Mich., figures each scoreboard will weigh 200 pounds when finished.

They’ll be a vast improvement over the old, manual, wooden versions currently hung near the black, silver and gold rinks. The new models will follow that Michigan Tech color scheme.

“We are having them painted at Advance Tec, ,” says George Olszewski, a fourth-year business major from Columbus, Ind. The company is donating the labor, after hours.

Olszewski was drilling into the new components, making space for the scoreboard clocks. “These will have running clocks, and that’s a big deal,” he says. “No more guessing how much time is left.”

Olszewski doubles as the broomball connection with the Inter-Residence Hall Council, which runs the competition.

Megan Crowley, a fourth-year applied ecology major from Milford, Mich., shows off the custom-made control boxes, with special “glove-sized buttons” for the outdoor scorekeeping. She is playing on two broomball teams this winter.

“We’ll have local time, too,” she says, working on internal connections on each unit.

And once they are mounted at the rinks, the whole system will be networked for real-time scoring on the broomball website. For those enhancements, Olszewski says they have had great help from IT, Telcom, and Facilities Management, who re-leveled the three outdoor rinks and added conduit and block work to make it all come together.

So, how many total hours have gone into this project?

“Probably 5,000, between the Robotics Enterprise, the broomball people, IT and Facilities,” says Rysenga.

“And the Advance Tec guy is working overnight so we can grab them the next morning,” Olszewski adds. He points to a gleaming black scoreboard standing in the sunlit front hall of the Minerals and Materials Engineering Building.

When the three scoreboards are done, they’ll have cost about $10,000, including $800 to ship the weatherproof components from China.

“Broomball can afford it,” Olszewski says, smiling. “We had to get the exact components we wanted. We shopped around a lot, and we found the best ones in China.”

The green LED scoreboards will be highly visible on the east end of campus.

“And, they’ll be great at night,” says Crowley.

The new mechanisms will add to the enjoyment, no doubt, of the distinctly Michigan Tech tradition of broomball.