• Feb 5th 2009 at 8:28AM
  • 9
Top Gear's James May, a.k.a. "Captain Slow," has signed on to promote a new academic challenge for children called Scalectric4Schools. The challenge would pit schools against each other with custom, small-scale electric cars that will compete on slot tracks. The goal of the event is to get young students interested in engineering, particularly in the automotive field. There's been an alarming shortage of young engineers entering the working world over the past few years in nearly every country that has an established automotive sector.

There's more to winning this competition than just having a fast car, as the judging will also include the car's overall design and the builder's portfolio in the final score. As part of the curriculum, students would learn how to use CAD software, CNC routers and laser cutters, all whilelearning the basics of car design and the principles of electric propulsion. We just wish courses like this were available when we were in school. See a video here.

[Source: Toy News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      There's a reason there's a shortage of engineers in these countries. It's because its impossible to get through engineering programs nowadays and still have a life outside of school. Some of my family members that went through college as engineers even as early ago as the 80s were able to easily go through the programs and have a life on the side. I'm in an engineering program and it's impossible to do anything other than study. My freshman year they said that 1 in 3 will finish the program and it's not that everyone there can't finish the program it's the fact that only 1 in 3 will have the determination to.
      So what are they doing wrong that only 1 in 3 with the ability to finish are finishing?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd like Jeremy Clarkson to be one of the competitors, although that might go typically Top Gear-shaped.

      Anyways, James May is a good presenter, and I rather enjoy his drinking TV show.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think Clarkson's kids are gonna show up with slot cars powered by blender and electric drill motors.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd say job security is still better with engineering though, which is why I've stuck with it for 4 years now (ME major).

      I'd say the biggest problem with current engineering programs is the lack of any enthusiasm or application to the real world throughout the learning process. I would say, out of all the classes I've taken, only 3-4 I've actually "enjoyed" being in, and those were hands-on lab/project classes. Most of my classes are just straight forward, sit-in-lecture classes without any real passion, from either the instructors or the students.

      Yes, I understand learning all of this stuff, from circuits, to thermodynamics, to fluids, to vibrations, etc. is integral to the profession, but does it have to be such a dreary and tedious process? I dunno, maybe I'm just being hypocritical and should just shut up and take it for what it's worth, but I can't shake the feeling that some passion for this field has been lost amidst all of this.

      I like Jame's idea and applaud him for starting young, as that's when you can really capture a person's imagination and enthusiasm.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd like to have seen a program like that when I was in college... CNC, CAM, CAD was all hung up on old 468 PCs. Painful.

      In other news- my son's Pinewood Derby car is getting it's second coat of paint today.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Okay, but why would anyone in Europe or the USA want to be an engineer? The jobs are all moving overseas to India, where they can pay engineers there about $15,000 a year, and they're HAPPY.

      I'm sorry, but accounting, engineering, and other white collar jobs where you just compute problems are either being replaced by machines or moving to countries with a cheaper workforce, just like blue collar jobs did 25 years ago.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sadly, I agree with you. Being an engineer I feel this pain. It seems to be that companies are seeing a shortage of cheap engineers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great idea. Best way to teach/draw interest is via hands-on work that educates and entertains.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's not scalectrix4schools, it's scalextric4schools. You guys switched the C and the X.