Pensacola Christian College runs an engineering competition each year for their mechanical engineering students. For the 2001-2002 competition the goal of the competition was to build an remote control vehicle to race on an ice rink. The vehicle would have to race in a straight drag race (3 heats) and then in a timed slalom (2 heats).
The vehicle was required to fit in a 1 ft. x 1 ft. x 2 ft. box. It was to be battery powered. The battery had to be 10 volts and 10 watt-hours or less. Most importantly the vehicle could not do any more damage to the ice than an average ice skater would. These were the key requirements. The rest was left to our creativity.
Our team began with six members, however by the end of the year the team was down to four members: Charlie (team leader), Jason (master pilot), Leah (graphic designer), Daniel (scribe).
Five vehicles were entered into the competition. One used a wire wheel for its drive, another used a pair of custom screws (about 1.5 in. diameter screws), the third used wheels, the fourth was very similar to our vehicle except it used razor blades for runners, and the fifth was our vehicle. See Documentation and Pictures for details on our vehicle. I am sorry I did not get any good pictures of the other vehicles.
The vehicle with the wire wheel drive placed first in the drag race. I am not sure who took second, but we came in third. In the slalom, we placed first with the wire wheel vehicle in second. The vehicle with razor blades was too damaged to enter the slalom. Points were given according to where each person placed in each race, as well as for documentation submitted. The documentation was potentially worth as much as winning one of the races. After the races there was some doubt as to who would win, but after reviewing the documentation, the judges announced that the wire wheel vehicle had won.
I would like to make a special notice of the screw drive vehicle. In the first heat of the drag race, they had their polarity reversed. When the judge said go, they hit full power, and their vehicle shot backwards. Their steering skis were not made to run backwards, and one was ripped off. However, they exhibited great ingenuity and perseverance and completed the rest of the drag races and entered both heats of the slalom races. I admire their perseverance. They had no chance of winning the slalom, but they pushed through and completed anyway.