Posted on December 08, 2018
Ara Nazarian is a biomedical scientist. His training has taken him from Tennessee Tech, to Boston University, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Along the way, he has skied in Gatlinburg and Massanutten down south to many mountains in New England, Colorado and Switzerland. He started out as a mechanical engineer, and became fascinated by how the human body worked and how engineering principles could be applied to the human body. This fascination took him to Boston where he started his career in biomedical engineering. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and conducts orthopaedic and trauma related research at his lab.
Ken Rodriguez, known as KROD, is a surgeon who specializes in trauma. He grew up in Argentina and skied in the Andes before coming to New England to realize that all snow is not made the same. He is a biomedical engineer by training, did his PhD at UC San Diego, and then came to Boston where he went to medical school at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. He then found a passion for fixing broken bones, including many of the skiers that get hurt given the nasty snow/ice conditions that plague New England. He became an orthopedic surgeon and trauma specialist and is the head of Orthopedic Trauma at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Ken did research as a medical student at the same lab Ara was a graduate student in their early years in Boston. They have pretty much known each other for over 20 years and have been collaborating in many medical related projects since then, as well as tinkering with tons of nifty non-medical ideas just for fun. They have become not only close collaborators, but also close friends who matured together into their careers in medicine, science and engineering at the same lab and with the same mentors.
Turns out Ara and Ken enjoy skiing quite a bit as well. Ken doesn't want to end up in his operating room, so he is boringly conservative, while Ara is a bit more of a daredevil. Ara came into skiing in his 20s, where his friends, who had been skiing before they could walk, took him to a black trail in the Swiss Alps to “teach” him how to ski. That’s pretty much all it took for him to get hooked, and 3 hours later he finally made it down the mountain, wet, tired and sore. He likes high-performance skis and really enjoys New England skiing, while Ken has had the same pair of old skis for years.
Verispellis has been a culmination of support and collaboration from a number of sources, our spouses, our children, and our resident Olympic ski racer, Arman Serebrakian. A number of other folks have played a significant role in turning this idea into reality, which we are eternally grateful to. This has been the effort of several years, where a big chunk of our precious little free time has been invested in designing and testing different materials in our garages. Once we had something that seemed workable, we approached a manufacturer of custom skis to help us make our first real prototype, implementing our technology into their already high-quality wood-core ski design.