Engineering Students Build Miniature Car

April 14, 2014

A small group of Mount Union students have teamed up to build a miniature car out of an old bicycle, a weed whacker and whatever else they can purchase on their limited budget.

Dr. Hans Tritico, professor of civil engineering at the University of Mount Union, assigned the students the task of creating an idea for a project. The students were assigned to take one of their passions and design a project related to it with a budget of $100. Stemming from an interest in engines and cars, the idea to build a miniature drag racing vehicle took hold. The following students are working together to design and build the car which will be raced at the end of the semester: Jon Stingel, sophomore mechanical engineering major of Dundee, OH; Jared Umstot, freshman mechanical engineering major of Atwater, OH; Rob DeMarco, freshman mathematics and mechanical engineering major of North Canton, OH; Edward Cudjoe, sophomore mechanical engineering major of Accra, Ghana; and Terry Long, senior Japanese major of Amherst, OH.

The students first brainstormed potential ideas for the car, researching different types of car systems to help them come up with the best ideas that they could. They developed a list of criteria based on their goal and went through a process of elimination to determine the best design. After choosing a design, they began detailed research to determine which parts they would use and how they would build it.

In order to create this miniature vehicle, students are using parts from a weed whacker and an old bicycle. The rest of the materials will be purchased. To power this car, the team must diagnose and fix a small plastic engine which is currently not working. For them to gain the knowledge that they need to fix this, they will build a miniature plastic four-cylinder engine from a kit. The team expects that they will need to make modifications as they go, and once they finish they will have to tweak and change parts that can make it better.

“This project is a great way to practice the process that engineers go through every day,” said Stingel. “We take a problem and we work out a solution that we think will be efficient and work the best for the given situation. We get the chance to work together to build a miniature vehicle, and learn about engines – something that many people do not get the exposure to. For a mechanical engineering student, this is the perfect project. We are learning about different mechanical systems and how to put together a system that will function in a beneficial way.”   

From this point, the team will move from the planning stage to the building stage. The students are looking forward to building the vehicle and putting their plan into action.

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