Engineering students test in taste

First year engineering students are in the process of designing and testing edible cars that will be raced on Thursday. The project is a part of the Engineering Concepts’ class curriculum and is making a return for the second consecutive year.
Kerry Meyers, first-year engineering director and professor, is in charge of the project. He said that the project is a fun way for students to apply the concepts they have learned in class.
“Last year was the first year I tried it, and it was popular with students. They enjoy doing something that’s more hands on opposed to just listening to me drone on in class. The idea is to force them to apply the concepts learned in class to something that is fun and enjoyable for them,” Meyers said.
Working in groups of two to three, students are required to build and test their edible vehicles. The cars must use moving wheels and axles in order to slide down a ramp that is provided to students in Moser Hall. To earn credit, students’ cars must move at least 12 inches past the ramp.
“The students need to modify their design using the materials that I brought for them, which they requested,” Meyers said. “They’re able to use bubble gum, candy, pretzels, tootsie rolls and anything else that I provided to them.”
Some students said they have experienced trouble with the materials they have chosen for their cars. Jessica Roepke, engineering major, said her group struggled to choose the materials for their axles and wheels.
“The body of our car is a cucumber, and the wheels are lollipop suckers. We might be using either Slim Jims or chocolate pretzels for our axles, but the candy canes that we originally used did not work,” Roepke said. “This whole project just makes you think about how design of a car works.”
Josh Wire, engineering student, said he has experienced similar problems.
“So far, the results have been failing. For the body, we used a potato, and rice cakes for the tires. The wheels do not move on it, so we’ll have to keep trying,” Wire said.
Other students, though, expressed confidence in their vehicle design. Lendon Dobey, first-year engineering student, said his car will work.
“We’re using bananas, pretzel rods, Starbursts and rice cakes on our car. I feel like our car is definitely going to work, and the only thing we really have to worry about is if the wheels fall off or if the axles don’t move,” Dobey said.
Meyers concluded that while the project is fun for the students, it also serves as a learning experience.
“Ultimately, it’s a fun excuse for students to collect data and analyze the results from each different team. The students in the past have had fun, and they seem to be enjoying the testing process now,” Meyers said.

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