In this video segment adapted from Pennsylvania College of Technology and WVIA, learn what it is like to take part in a collegiate automotive engineering competition. Teams design and construct rugged off-road vehicles and then go through four days of inspections and racing. Observe how a manufacturing and technology student uses technology to help build his team's vehicle. Learn about some of the core events of the competition and how the experience helps prepare students for the job market. This resource is useful for introducing components of Engineering Design (ETS) from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to grade 9-12 students.
This media asset was adapted from "degrees that work: Advanced Manufacturing".
Teaching Tips for Grades 9-12
Performance Expectation: HS-ETS1-2; HS-ETS1-4
Disciplinary Core Ideas:
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1.C Optimizing the Design Solution
Engineering Practice: Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Designing Solutions
The Baja SAE challenge defines the problem(s), constraints, and measures of success. As shown in the video, it is up to the teams of students to develop and optimize their solutions within the constraints.
After watching the video: Have the students either work in teams or have a full class discussion on the following two topics: 1) How were the possible solutions modeled? Both physical and computer models were used. Two computer programs were shown as part of the creation of the final product. What did each of them provide that was important? The CAD software provided a layout for the overall design. The CNC program was used to generate the physical parts needed. Students recognize that computer simulations can be used to predict the effects of a design solution on the systems and/or the interactions between systems, part of the Engineering Practice Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking. 2) What optimizations of the design were discussed? Reduction of weight, suspension points, trailing arm locations. Are there other things that they were likely to consider? Students recognize that the creation of the model is based on prioritized criteria and tradeoffs, part of the Engineering Practice, Designing Solutions.
Design competitions such as Baja SAE—which is organized by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International, a society dedicated to advancing the engineering of self-propelled vehicles—provide valuable experience for students of engineering. The competition simulates a real-world engineering project by asking college students to design and build an off-road vehicle. Working as a team, students must find ways to deal with the many challenges of bringing a new product to market. For example, they must research, design, plan, build, and test their product. They must also learn about finance, project management, and marketing. In addition, the competition requires students to communicate effectively and work collaboratively; the success of a team is based not on the skills of any one team member, but on how well the team works together as a whole.
Design competitions allow students to step out of the classroom and apply their academic knowledge to real world experiences. Students get to practice skills—such as designing and drafting, manufacturing, and troubleshooting—that are useful for a range of future jobs. In fact, having these experiences can be quite helpful when applying for a job. Many job announcements state that candidates should have one to three years of experience, effectively ruling out new graduates. However, prospective employers look favorably upon the practical experience acquired in design competitions.
Engineering competitions are not only for college students—there are similar opportunities for high school students with interests in engineering, technology, math, and science. The FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams to build robots to compete against each other in a specific game. The teams are given a standard parts kit, a set of rules, and six weeks to design and build their robots. Another competition for high school students, the National Engineering Design Challenge (NEDC), asks teams to design and build a working solution for a social need. For example, to create an assistive technology device for a person with a disability, students must use their creativity as well as their math, science, research, design, writing, and presentation skills. Engineering competitions such as these provide an engaging opportunity to learn about teamwork and gain real-world engineering and problem-solving experience.
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