Real-World Challenges for Aspiring Engineers

by Tandy Banks

Nearly 400 Oklahoma teens competed in this year’s Duncan Area Youth Engineering Contest, up 50% from last year’s 240! Students in grades 7-12 from 9 different schools participated in the contest that is designed around PITSCO’s Metric 500 CO2 drag race cars.

Students start weeks before the race by planning their designs with simple sketches. As they start to narrow down the details of their design, foam blocks are sculpted to give a physical prototype of their dragsters. Many students choose to use SOLIDWORKS or DraftSight to layout the car’s shape. Contest rules are given with guidelines on size, weight and materials.

Finished cars and full-scale metric design drawings are submitted for entry into the race. The designs are graded by judges who are within the mechanical design industry and give scores on 5 categories. Each competitor can recieve 50 possible points.

The cars are raced on a 15 meter track with actual speeds up to 25 m/s (57 MPH)! Prizes and awards were given to 1st-3rd in: Engineering, Race & Overall.

RWCThe winning car this year is pictured above (272) and had some excellent design improvements. This student took 2nd place in last year’s contest but was not satisfied with their result. So when the time came to build a car this year, they not only spent a great deal of time on their CAD model but also used CAM and multi-axis machine technologies to cut the balsa wood block to exact standards. The end result yielded the fastest car and taking home a few large checks!

Getting kids exposed to exciting benefits of the world of engineering is a goal of GoEngineer and the contest’s coordinator, Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF). Plans are already being made to host over 500 cars in next year’s event.


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