Student Projects

Are you working toward a technical career? Do you like building big projects for school or personal interest? Then Power Mountain Engineering is for you! With the help of 9 other team members, you can build any of the projects in our catalog or propose your own idea for a new project. Either way, Power Mountain is an opportunity to bring truly awesome machines to life.

Hand Crafted

Power Mountain Projects are carefully designed to meet the following criteria:

  • Each project challenges 10-13 students to build a complex prototype that has 5 or more technical elements. The work is distributed so that all team members stay busy and are doing something important.
  • All projects are safe to build and operate with the right knowledge and training.
  • Any project can be built and tested in 100-110 hours of work for less than $4,500 in materials, supplies, and services.
  • Each project contains science and engineering lessons that are relevant to postsecondary studies. Many PME projects are adapted from graduate-level work and publications.

Give Us Your Own Idea

All are welcome to suggest a new Power Mountain Project by clicking on the My Project Suggestion form. Suggestions may become project candidates by meeting all the criteria listed above. Candidate projects are further reviewed by our Advisory Board for academic content and any legal issues.

PME Project Inventory

Power Mountain Projects are clustered into the following technical areas:

Applied Acoustics – Projects here are loud! Here we combine sound and resonance to produce dramatic effects like dancing fire, pulsejet engines, and refrigerators that cool by using sound instead of Freon.

Applied Physics – These projects are all about atomic interactions between fast moving particles and matter.  This study area includes x-ray photography, neon signs, plasma speakers, and the high-voltage machines that make it all possible.

Biomechanics – This project category covers the growing study of human-machine connections.  Here, we work in artificial muscles, biosensors, prosthetics, DNA mapping, and brain-computer interface (BCI).

Directed Energy – Just like it sounds, projects in this category are machines that put power onto a target. The devices include rail guns, supersonic ping-pong balls, magnetic ring launchers, vortex air cannons, and much more.

Earth, Sky & Sea – Projects in this category help us explore the natural world. They include underwater drones, atmospheric electricity, radio astronomy, and environmental reclamation.

Lasers & Optics – Yes, we like lasers! Big or small, it really doesn’t matter. We have projects for gas lasers, solid-state lasers, dye lasers, pulsed lasers and even lasers that cut through metal. We also use laser light in holography, image processing, and communication.

Power Conversion – This is a big topic. It covers the transformation of wind, solar, thermal, fuel-cell, and vibrational energy into usable electric power. In one special project, we generate wireless electric power to make a room-sized charging station.

Propulsion & Levitation – We like to make things move! Most of our propulsion projects are various kinds of jet engines, including turbofan, pulsed, and liquid-fueled. The levitation projects use magnetic fields to lift, push or crush non-magnetic objects. We also move people around in our own hovercraft, electric skateboards, jet-powered cars, and other strange modes of transportation.

Finished Projects – These are recently completed projects.  Just because some other team did one of these in the recent past doesn’t keep us from doing it again!  Projects in this category remain active favorites.


Please browse the constantly changing project inventory and vote on your favorite ones. Three popular projects will be offered to students and volunteers at the fall-semester Kickoff meeting. Similarly, unpopular projects will be dropped from the inventory.  Your vote counts!

Price to Play

Producing a single project costs roughly $12,000 and that includes materials, insurance, and school facility rental. Power Mountain is an all-volunteer operation, so there are no labor charges. The minimum team size is 10 students, so the maximum per-family cost is $1,200.

Our goal is to significantly reduce that cost through community donations and scholarships. The net participation price depends upon how much money is raised.

How to Sign Up

If you are really interested in Power Mountain Engineering, please click on the Student Interest Form. Your information will remain in strict confidence. Completing the form is the first step toward project participation but without obligation.

I have a Question…

Why not have a newly-formed team propose the project they want to do, rather than just choosing one from those offered?  The answer is in three parts:

  1. People (not just students) will pick familiar things to do that they already like and understand. PME projects are assigned to guarantee that students confront a completely new problem, accompanied by the need to teach oneself the information very quickly without the classroom as a backstop. This is a very accurate model of how engineering is studied in college and good practice for those headed in that direction.
  2. Assigned problems are true to a real career in science and engineering. When was the last time your employer asked you to do whatever you wanted and volunteered to pay for it?
  3. Our projects must challenge the volunteers, too! Unless our projects are exotic and difficult, we could not attract the high-caliber talent needed to mentor the students to a successful outcome. The quality of the PME experience rests on our dedicated volunteers.