Build Your Own Smart Car!
by Robin Hegg
Engineering students at the university level have opportunities to try their hand at designing smart cars through competitions. The Freescale Cup is an international challenge where university students build, program, and race a model car. The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s IEEE chapter hosts a remote control car race called the RC Classic. But there are plenty of opportunities for high school and even middle school students to get designing too.
If you’ve ever dreamed of designing and building your own full-sized car, then the Solar Car Challenge might be for you. Engineers are working to make cars smarter—smarter about how they drive, where they drive, and how they get their energy. In the Solar Car Challenge, teams of high school students from schools around the world work to design, engineer, and build their own solar cars, then show them off and race them at the Texas Motor Speedway or on a cross-country drive. Each car has to have a roll cage, safety harness, “crush zones,” a horn, a fire extinguisher, communications, and turn signals. Race officials are able to monitor the individual cars using a wireless computer network.
Not ready to make a full-size car? Check out the Junior Solar Sprint where 5th through 8th grade students design, build, and race solar powered model cars.