Karl Vogel 2016-08-24 04:18:51
In Brief: Claiming that the dog ate your homework isn’t too far-fetched. The Incredible, Edible Vehicle Competition fosters teamwork among students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the wheels are turning as the annual event rolls into a new academic year. A different sort of fast food takes to the track when UNL hosts the Incredible, Edible Vehicle Competition every year. ASABE member Mark Riley, head of UNL’s department of biological systems engineering, requires the students in his introductory biological systems and agricultural engineering class to demonstrate edible vehicle designs—really. The cars must be functional, they must be made entirely of food, and the students must be able eat their cars at the end of the competition. Every fall, student teams, as well as alumni returning to show their support, race their cars down a sloped track to see which one travels farthest and stays in one piece. The top three teams receive a certificate. Each teams must also submit a poster that details the process of making their car. The event was started many years ago by ASABE member Dennis Schulte, a now-retired UNL professor, as part of Engineering Day, and is coordinated by Evan Curtis, student services coordinator in UNL’s department of biological systems engineering. Curtis said the competition inspires unique designs using a variety of products. Vegetables, sausage, cheese, and candy are just a few of the materials students use. With the new addition of a calorie limit, last year’s vehicles were healthier than ever before. Creativity rules, with team names like “Meals on Wheels” and entry names like “Tasty Taxi.” The teams, each with three or four students, work for several weeks on brainstorming, designing, shopping, prototyping, testing, and tweaking. Rigid, round cookies and rice cakes usually serve as wheels, although a few teams have used slices of summer sausage. Axles are typically pretzel rods or candy canes. Chassis choices range from hard bread to carrots, with an effort to balance function and taste. The competition fuels the teams’ design and problemsolving skills, as well as their appetites. At the previous event, one team blew away the competition in calories used—less than 200 for a vehicle that consisted of two dill pickles, four rice cake wheels, two pretzel rod axles, and gummy candies to hold everything together. Its two runs totaled more than 190 inches, which was more than double the runner-up from Team Salami Tsunami. However, although their car didn’t go farthest or get the most miles per calorie, Team Salami Tsunami walked away with the top prize. What won the day was their consistently high placement in each of the evaluation categories despite having a high calorie count of 1,127, based on a design that used a salami log, fudge-striped cookies, pretzel rods, gummy candies, and black licorice. After their two runs down the track, team members Jared Bowker, Isaac Frerichs, Thomas Huff, and Will Neels devoured their creation. “We honestly didn’t expect to end up in first place,” said Neels of his team’s car, which was looked more like a tractor. “I figured that the distance would have been more of a prioritized category. I guess we had the right combination of things, both in our presentation and our car. We wanted to get a nice design that would roll straight. That was number one—making it functional. But we also were thinking that we had to have something that we could chow down fast, and salami’s the first thing we thought of.” Riley said the demands for consistency across the evaluation categories—distance and durability (scored on two runs), components (must be edible and no more than 1,500 calories), and cost (less than $10)—are meant to replicate the demands placed on engineers in real-world projects. The calorie limit was instituted this year to make for a healthier competition. Team Salami Tsunami will likely take a break for a year. “I think we’re all kind of burned out on salami,” Neels said. For more information, contact Communications Specialist Karl Vogel, email@example.com.
Published by ASABE. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Building+And+Racing+Edible+Vehicles/2566039/332322/article.html.