Backyard "Predator" Is Pride of Neighborhood

Seniors build roller coaster in Frisco

By Susy Solis
|  Thursday, May 27, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 PM CDT
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Rocking the Roller Coaster

Susy Solis, NBCDFW.com

This roller coaster, named "The Predator" was built by two high school seniors.

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Rocking the Roller Coaster

Two North Texas teenagers build a roller coaster from scratch.
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Spurred by his love of roller coasters, Liberty High School senior Nathan Rubin built one in his backyard for his senior project.

Rubin and his friend Ian Mair, who helped with the project, are enrolled in the independent study and mentoring program offered by the Frisco Independent School District.

"It allows you to get insight on a career and figure out if it's the one you like and if you have a passion for something like roller coaster design," Rubin said. "It allows you to really explores your passion."

Rubin warmed his mother to the idea before embarking on the ambitious endeavor.

"I basically just said, 'I'm going to go for it,' and I talked to some mentors," he said. "I have a structural engineer mentor and a mechanical engineer that helped us with the calculations and they taught us what to do."

The two seniors spent about $1,500 of their own money to build the roller coaster. Lowe's Home Improvement and Home Depot donated $1,200 in supplies, including wood, screws and metal.

It took three months and at least 500 hours to build the 10 foot-tall roller coaster affectionately named "The Predator."

The one-seat cart drops freely from a 10-foot drop and again over two smaller humps. Rubin took the inaugural ride, but the car didn't make it over the second hump.

"We are still working on it," he said. "We are working on getting enough momentum to get over the second hill."

The Predator is the pride of the neighborhood, even though it's not yet ready for riders.

"The neighbors actually really enjoy having it," Rubin said. "They think it's really cool, and they always have their kids come over and look at it."

Even Rubin's mother, Cindy, has come to love the structure that has taken over her backyard.

"She's pretty proud of it now," Rubin said. "She's happy that it was built because she gets to show it off to all her friends."

Rubin will dismantle The Predator before leaving for college at the University of Austin. Not surprisingly, the teenager will study engineering.
 

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