Student Developing Innovative System of Electric Vehicles
Miller is participating in the new ACE co-op that is funded with a new $5 million gift from the PDB foundation
Wentworth Institute of Technology student Paul Miller is working on an electric motor and battery that has the potential to be a game changer for anyone who rides a scooter, skateboard, or bike.
Miller's journey began two years ago when he built an electric bike as a side project.
“It was a lot of fun but had many problems,” recalled Miller, Electromechanical Engineering ’23. He decided to take it apart to make improvements.
Fast forward to January 2022. Miller broke his wrist snowboarding and could no longer bike around the city, so he took up skateboarding.
“I was really enjoying skateboarding and realized I would probably like an electric skateboard too,” he said.
To save money, Miller came up with the idea of designing a modular motor and battery that could be transferred between different modes of transportation. He found an opportunity to work on his project through Accelerate, Wentworth’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, first testing designs on a skateboard.
Miller is participating in the new ACE co-op (Accelerate entrepreneurial co-op) that is funded with a new $2 million gift. He received a $9,000 stipend and $2,500 for expenses so he could work on the project full time and receive co-op credit.
Miller also researched the viability of his product reaching the market with Associate Professor Michael Mozill.
“Paul showed a great openness to acquiring entrepreneurship skills. We both know that he had the technical skills to make his project work, but we didn’t know if there was a market for his idea,” said Mozill, who teaches Business Management at Wentworth.
Mozill shared that Miller enthusiastically reached out to potential customers through groups on social media, displaying his prototype on campus, and talking to people riding on trails, among other methods to gather market information.
“Paul really got comfortable with managing uncertainty and willingly leaned into the entrepreneurship side,” said Mozill.
In its present configuration, the battery and motor can both be easily removed and attached to the skateboard, and the skateboard can be used when both are detached. Miller's plan is to refine the design a little further and then move to the bike and scooter.
“The motor can be transferred from one vehicle to another with ease,” said Miller. “The total time to remove and install both is under one minute.”
He credits Accelerate for having a “number of very helpful resources” including an FDM 3D printer and woodworking materials, as well as resin printers that are “very good for printing strong and dimensionally accurate parts.”
Miller’s current parts have all been 3D printed, so he is planning to manufacture future components out of metal by utilizing Wentworth’s manufacturing labs.
Because of the interchangeable nature of the product, repairing and/or replacing damaged parts is much easier. Miller also noted that replaceable hardware creates an opportunity to upgrade products down the line or to develop additional vehicles that are compatible with the same system.
As he continues refining the motor and battery, Miller looks forward to eventually developing a fully functional suite of modular electric vehicles.
“This project was started purely of my own interest,” he said, “and if other people are interested too, I see that as a bonus.”
Accelerate is offering six sophomores the chance to work on their businesses full time during their optional co-op experience in summer 2023 as a part of the Accelerate Co-op for Entrepreneurs (ACE) program. Students earn $7,000 in wages, up to $2,500 for materials and supplies, room and board, and a startup advisor. If you’re a sophomore interested in learning more, add your email here.