WEIRD NEWS
06/13/2012 12:01 pm ET

Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber: Spider-Man Backpack Utah Students Invented Picked Up By Air Force

Some students practically climb the walls waiting for the school year to end, but a group of engineering students from Utah State University prefers to literally climb the walls.

They're known as the "Ascending Aggies" and recently won acclaim for a device they invented called the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC) that turns anyone into a wall-walker on par with Spider-Man.

The device is basically a vacuum motor that powers two suction paddles, and sticks onto any building surface, be it glass, stucco, or brick, and is powerful enough to support up to 700 pounds, depending on the altitude, according to PC World.

The team set out to create the incline-scaling invention as part of a national competition sponsored by the Air Force and performed so well that the military is investing $100,000 towards developing the PVAC further.

"We went into this competition not knowing what the requirements were going to be," team captain T.J. Morton told USU News. "The competition allowed us to use everything we had learned about in our engineering courses and apply it to a genuine design problem."

The Aggies competed against teams from 16 other schools to see who could get four soldiers up a sheer 90-foot face in 20 minutes with a device that weighed less than 20 pounds.

"The logistics of this project became real very quick," team member Dan Aguirre told the Salt Lake Tribune. "Someone was actually relying on our design to climb a wall. You can't get that in a textbook."

Although the PVAC is designed to function hands-free so a soldier can use a weapon while scaling a wall, faculty leader Dr. Steve Hansen told Business Insider that the device still needs work.

For one thing, it's as loud as a leafblower and, therefore, not very stealth. In addition, the team wants to work on efficiency and reduce its weight even further.

Despite those concerns, team member Garrett Vaughan is proud of how the PVAC worked.

"We had no problem: it sucked just fine," he told KPLC-TV. "Probably bad way to say it."

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