Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Squirt, designed by Christopher
Ivey (left) with John Barrett and Diana Sandy, gets ready
to face off against Daphne, designed by Alex Englesbe
(right) with Ian Osborne and Noel Sanjuan.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS
By Angela Roberts
On Monday, Dec. 10, 38 freshmen gathered in the
first-floor hallway of Homewood's Latrobe
Hall to compete in a "Flippy Car" race. All of the students
are in a class called Freshman Experiences in
Mechanical Engineering, taught by associate professor
Allison Okamura. The assignment teaches
students how to apply fundamental mechanical engineering
concepts learned in the classroom to a
working project. Among these is converting potential energy
to kinetic energy, in this case, using
rubber bands and mousetraps. These simple household items
served as the catalysts that powered and
flipped shoe box–sized cars constructed of foamcore, small
pieces of welding rod (for axles) and, in
some cases, wheels from old toys.
The challenge was to design a car that would take off
from the starting line (a strip of lime
green tape on the floor); travel 10 feet before entering
the four-foot "flip zone," where the car would
complete a full back or forward flip; and continue on
another six feet to the finish line.
After an exciting first round, quarterfinals and
semifinals, two teams, the Quicker Flipper and
Jerry, battled it out for first place. Jerry came soaring
out of the gate, quickly surpassing the
Quicker Flipper. However, once in the flip zone, Jerry ran
out of energy and stopped, allowing the
Quicker Flipper, built by team members Andrew Barnett,
Laura Carson and Brandon Hahn, to proceed
at a slow but determined pace across the finish line. The
crowd, as they say, went wild.
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