Sometimes engineering is doing the minimum to successfully fulfill the requirements. Though this is really cool, next time I’d challenge you to build a car with the absolute minimum resources possible (time / $$$ / material / effort).
I’m reminded of a story from my time at Clarkson. Sophomore Mechanical Engineers at Clarkson take a class ME212 - Intro to Engineering Design. This class involves completing design challenges similar to the mousetrap car.
When I was a freshman, one of the challenges was to launch as much paper as possible (measured by weight) across a lecture hall and into a trash can in the center of the room, across about a 15 foot span. There was a very limited materials list that you could use. (I don’t remember the exact rules.) Most students built cool catapult mechanisms and tried to accurately nail “free throws” of wadded paper balls into the trash can.
I had a friend who competed in the challenge (he would tell me about this years later). Instead of building a cool (complex) catapult mechanism he did the following:
-Put a big thick piece of foam down on the table.
-Stuck a wooden dowel into the foam.
-Glued a cardboard “shovel” onto the tip of the dowel rod.
He would grab a handful of paper, hold it on the shovel, bend back the dowel rod, and let it rip. He did this over and over again. The shotgun approach to getting the paper into the trashcan. In the time limit, he (as the story goes) scored the highest in the class.
What is the (possible) moral here?
Engineering is problem solving. The most important part of successfully solving the problem is to understand what the problem is. Elegance in engineering comes from “optimizing” your solution, not solving problems that don’t really exist. Fulfill your requirements, meet your goals…
EXTREMELY cool car! I don’t think I could build something like that.