Click on the photo for a high-res gallery from the competition

Imagine a mashup of a pinewood derby and a tractor pull running uphill and powered by a AA battery. That's the Micro-electric vehicle competition sponsored by the Detroit Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. This year's event took place at the headquarters of Yazaki North America in Canton, MI. High school students built a battery-powered vehicle that has to pull a weighted trailer up an eight foot long ramp at a 25 degree angle.

As usual with SAE design competitions, the teams have to prepare a written paper on their design and do an oral presentation. Some pretty hefty cash prizes are awarded to the top teams and schools. Overall victory nets the school $1,000 plus $100 to the top team in the design competition. For the performance competition each member of the winning team earns $75. Second and third place schools and teams also win prizes for each of the categories.

Read more about the competition after the jump

Update: The results are after the jump



The racers are limited to eight inches in length, five inches wide and six inches tall. Two or four wheel drive is allowed but no tank treads. Each vehicle also has to have two working headlights that can be seen in daylight. The weighted trailer will way about six ounces and organizers will provide fresh batteries to each team at the beginning of the competition. The same battery has to be used for all heats until the final. A fresh set of batteries will be provided for the final.

Twenty five teams of students from ten schools took aim the prizes this year including four from Clinton High School southwest of Ann Arbor. Physics teacher Ron Schaffner had his students do the initial design portion of the competition as a class project. They spent about a week and half doing the design and writing the technical paper before they judged each other's designs. The best designs were chosen and submitted to the competition. All papers are judged by the organizers and the best are selected to come to the final competition where they give an oral presentation and race.



Over the past fourteen years teams from tiny Clinton High School have come out on top four times. Schaffner teaches his students the fundamentals of physics, kinematics, and electricity and then lets them go their own ways with the designs. They don't all come out the same or perform equally well but all the students learn about engineering.



Prior to the start of the competition teams had to make oral presentations of their designs to the judges while others were practicing and making final adjustments to the vehicles. One of the Clinton teams found they had plenty of power but the vehicle just sat spinning it's wheels, so they went back to their table started up their four wheel drive vehicle and applied a coat of rubber cement to each wheel. After a few minutes of drying time the next run showed they had just enough traction enhancement to climb the ramp.



Once the competition started each car was inspected before each heat to make sure lights worked and capacitors were discharged. Once they started, about half of the teams found themselves gravity challenged, but each made a valiant effort. Unfortunately I had to leave before the finals but as the results are available we'll post them here.

2007 SAE Detroit Section

Micro-Electric Vehicle Competition

Results

Overall Winning Schools

1st Place

Oakland Technical Campus – NW

$1,000 Cash Prize

2nd Place

Rochester Adams/Rochester High School

$750 Cash Prize

3rd Place

Adlai Stevenson High School

$500 Cash Prize

Winning Design Teams

1st Place

Rochester Adams/Rochester High School

$100 Cash Prize

2nd Place

Adlai Stevenson High School

$75 Cash Prize

3rd Place

Adlai Stevenson High School

$50 Cash Prize

Winning Performance Teams

1st Place

Oakland Technical

Vincent Bauer

$75 Cash Prize

Campus – NW (8C)

Jon Helms

$75 Cash Prize

Zach Townsend

$75 Cash Prize

2nd Place

Oakland Technical

Brad Pelton

$50 Cash Prize

Campus – NW (5B)

Justin Perry

$50 Cash Prize

3rd Place

Rochester Adams/

George Maghiar

$25 Cash Prize

Rochester High

Mike Maghiar

$25 Cash Prize

School (3B)

Mark Rudolf

$25 Cash Prize


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