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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

December 11, 2008
CONTACT: Phil Sneiderman

Batteries NOT Required
In Car Contest, Freshman Engineers Turn to the
Power of Rubber Bands and Mousetraps

For their first major design project, freshman mechanical engineers at Johns Hopkins recently had to think low-tech. They were assigned to design, build and race model cars that could not use conventional motors or even a single battery. Each vehicle could be powered only by two mousetraps and six rubber bands.
Race Car Contest
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

Inside the Computational Science and Engineering Building, 20 student teams put their motley car creations to the test. Many of the vehicles boasted bodies made of wooden slabs and wheels made of DVDs.

The challenge for each car: traverse an 11-foot-long curved course, while maneuvering around soda bottles filled with sand. The requirements to win: accuracy and speed. The prize: bragging rights and a good grade.

When the checkered flag descended, the winners were Michael Rizzoni, Nick Salzman and Alex Strachen, the three students who built and raced a vehicle called Awesom-O.

Supervising the event was course instructor Allison Okamura, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. The competition, she said, was more than an entertaining exercise. While working on their cars, the students learned about design approaches, potential and kinetic energy, friction, prototyping methods and other topics relevant to mechanical engineering.

Watch this short film about a challenging but fun-filled competition.

Related Link
To read the full Johns Hopkins Gazette story about this event, please stop by this page.

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