The Science of Snowboarding

Nick Gilson ’07

A catamaran is formed by two hulls for balance, with sails in the middle. Two school environments — MB and Teach for America — might be the hulls supporting the business he now pilots. After graduation, Nick headed to Johns Hopkins University, majoring in Earth & Planetary Sciences, which perhaps gave him literal grounding in what today forms the essence of his eponymous company: trees.

You’ll read more about Nick and his work as the co-founder and CEO of Gilson Boards in the new issue of Cupola, mailing shortly. Nick’s company started in a donkey stable and today turns out thousands of innovative, catamaran-inspired snowboards and skis a year, crafted entirely in the Appalachian foothills.

He credits MB’s high expectations and says that one of the most important skills he gained at Moses Brown was the ability to concisely express ideas in writing.

“I loved my experience at MB,” Nick says, “mainly because of my friends and our excellent teachers. Looking back as an adult, I have a heightened appreciation for the MB community and for the education I received. I now understand that such communities are exceptionally rare.”

After MB, Nick headed to Johns Hopkins and taught middle school science with Teach for America. As a teaching demonstration, he revisited a design he came up with as an eighth-grader at MB. Asking students to embark on a year-long invention project, Nick retrieved his own junior high design for a catamaran-inspired snowboard to model experimentation. Ultimately, that project, and its successive failures and successes — and his students’ expectations — put Nick on the path to business success. Today, their company has been more than doubling in size annually.

Watch for the next issue of Cupola to learn more.

Check out Nick’s TEDx talk!