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News | June 2, 2022

Tobogganing QA slides to quality finish

By Jason Kaneshiro DCMA Eastern Region Public Affairs

A quality mindset can transcend work to enhance life.

Russell Sherman, quality assurance team leader at Defense Contract Management Agency Hartford, discovered that when he led his team to place in three race divisions in his second year competing in the U.S. National Tobogganing Championships in 2022.

“In 2019, I watched the U.S. National Tobogganing Championships in Camden, Maine,” Sherman said. “It’s a fun event that they do.”

Sherman said some participants enter to have a good time, dressing up in costumes, making it similar to a festival atmosphere while other entrants take the race seriously and put a lot of effort into refining their sleds. The event is held to raise money for the Camden Snow Bowl, where the event is held — a place where people can ski right into the ocean.

“I went in 2020 for the first time to race,” Sherman said. “I bought a sled online, and my team and I ended up in 17th place.”

Based on their performance as first-time participants, they started thinking about putting real effort into trying to win.

“We went and purchased and modified additional sleds. A number of participants and teams put a lot of effort into the crafting of the sleds,” Sherman said. “Other teams had multiple sleds, depending on the race division they’re competing in.”

There were two-man, three-man, and four-man divisions.

Sherman and his team finished 8th in the 2-man division, 2nd in the three-man division, and 8th in the four-man division. They had the third best overall team finish out of all the teams that participated in all three divisions in 2020. The 2021 races were cancelled due to COVID.

“We researched the technical requirements and made the runners on the bottom of the sled as thin as possible to minimize the surface area that causes friction to maximize our mass and overcome the wind resistance to go faster,” Sherman explained.

Taking the mindset of a quality assurance professional, he also spent time eliminating the imperfections to ensure the sled had a smooth bottom line.

“Anything that I can feel with an imperfection, I marked with a green marker, and they made sure all imperfections were eliminated,” Sherman said.

Sherman said they also tapped into his experience with the processes of quality assurance with DCMA to look at a lot of products and, being in the defense industry, draw analogies to determine what technical aspects they could apply to their sled design.

“We’re already looking at what works and what doesn’t work and we have a plan on creating even better sleds for 2023,” Sherman said.