MAE Students Hold a Winch Car Design Competition


On another beautiful spring day, SEAS faculty, staff and students joined Professor Kerr-Jia Lu and her MAE 191 students for the winch car design competition held outside Tompkins Hall. Students in Professor Lu's mechanical design class participated in the competition as part of the class' design requirements. At the beginning of the semester, MAE 191 students were given a task to build a machine that can winch itself up a 45-degree slope and park itself within a designated area on the slope. Student teams were in charge of the entire design process, from the initial conceptual design to the detailed analysis, and finally the manufacturing and testing of the machine.

While the time required to complete the task was the main criterion on which the designs were judged, the ability to park along the slope and within the designated area were also considered in the evaluation. Six student teams competed, and the winning entry was designed and built by "Team Ramrod," whose car was fastest at 12V. Team members are: Dave Beam, Brock Rolfes, and Elliot Seibert. The runner-up in this extremely close competition was "The White Knight," which was fastest at 30V. Team members are: Izaak Beekman, Luis Chau, and Kemp Kernstine. The third place team was "The Blue Devil," whose car was most reliable. Team members are: Mike Amoroso, Erin Li, and Christian Nasner.

The other teams in the competition, in alphabetic order, are:

    The Automatic Hill Climber (AHC): Kenan Cole, David Jurkiewicz, and Therese Suaris
    The Fuzzy Duck: Alex Krupnik, Cliff Louden, Courtney Moore, and Rachel Schoenkin
    The Monster Truck: Ryan Durcik, Peter Hoffman, and Keith Sandroni

The course objective of MAE 191 is to integrate and extend theoretical knowledge taught in previous classes into a design environment. The competition provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experiences and practice their problem-solving techniques on real engineering problems. Students also had to provide an analysis of the project, and selected student comments are included at the bottom of this page.


Student Comments:

"The project created a steep learning curve for our group, and forced us to learn a lot about the design and construction process of a real-life project. Having to worry about the failure of parts, the cost effectiveness of components, and fit all of it into a given time schedule opened my eyes to some of the challenges which face engineers who work in the field. This acknowledgement was only reinforced when we thought about how much more pressure is on real engineers with each decision they make..." (The Monster Truck)

"The project gave us a chance to experience the real-world design process. The design process is not a simple one-step procedure. It goes back and forth between the theoretical analysis and the actual manufacturing.... The reason we had minimal problems in manufacturing, and had a successful first run is because we spent so much time with the design process before prototyping." (The Blue Devil)

"Our MAE 191 project provided a good understanding of what the real world manufacturing and design process is like, and has given us valuable hands-on experience with mechanical design." (The White Knight)

"The design and analysis process showed the importance of making realistic assumptions and also the importance of taking into account surrounding factors that can affect the ideal conceptual design." (The Automatic Hill Climber)