The rules are simple; build a “special single person” vehicle powered by a standard small engine (single cylinder four-stroke cycle) burning standard fuel (gasoline or diesel).
The students are to design and build the vehicles on their own, with adults in supervisory capacities only. There are two classes, Stock and Unlimited.
In the Stock class, the engines are provided and the students must be maintained in strictly stock conditions, no alterations allowed.
In the Unlimited class, engine modifications such as carburetor changes and modifications such as electrical start systems and fuel injectors can be used. In either class, the vehicle must have at least three wheels, the fuel tank must be located in a place that is unalterable by the driver, and the driver must weigh at least 150 pounds.
The vehicle will run a planned course, and the vehicle that gets the highest miles per gallon rating wins. The challenge is aimed at integrating math, science, engineering, and technology to create real world solutions for the problems facing us today.
Last year Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana built a vehicle able to go 1,365.41 miles per gallon in the Stock division;
Jefferson High School in Lafayette built one that went 1,350.02 miles per gallon in the Unlimited division.
How do they do it?
Well, no one is giving away any trade secrets, but things such as wheel placement, body design and rolling resistance are all said to be crucial.
Makes your 32 miles per gallon hatchback look like a Dodge Ram 1500, doesn’t it?