Edible Cars Rev E-Day Excitement
On December 9, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus engineering programs hosted an open house for prospective students, and gathered potential employers of interest to current students.
More than 200 people attended the event--timed during fall semester's "dead week," a studying time before finals--showing off of freshmen and senior projects. Rolling down dual ramps, the appetizing autos built by students in intro-level classes on biological systems engineering and agricultural engineering got the most attention.
The objectives were distance and durability, scored on two runs. The constraints were the components (must be edible) and their cost (under $10 per team). Beyond that, creativity ruled with team names including "Meals on Wheels" and entry names such as "Tasty Taxi."
The 18 teams, each with three or four students, worked for several weeks on designing, brainstorming, shopping, building prototypes, testing and tweaking. Rigid, round cookies and rice cakes made up the majority of wheels, although a few teams chose slices of summer sausage. Axels were typically pretzel rods or candy cane sticks. Chassis choices ranged from hard bread to carrots, with an effort to balance function and taste since the teams were required to eat their creations while the scores were tabulated.
In the end, "Team Zeta" and their "ateZ" car earned first place; their closest challenger, the "Christmas Cruiser" had an impressive initial run but faltered on the second.
Nebraska Engineering's "Incredible, Edible Vehicle Competition" fueled the teams' design and problem-solving skills, as well as full stomachs.