6th annual Formula E challenge
At the end of every summer term for the last 6 years, teams of Grad ID students have been running on the sidewalks of Art Center’s campus chasing Radio Controlled cars propelled by 16 feet of rubber band.
That scene is the culmination of a term long project in which the students go on a journey through the phases of conceiving of and then developing unique race vehicles that go far beyond the typical theory, visualization, model making and presentation activities that make up most of a design education experience – to developing, producing, testing, integrating technical systems and deploying an invention that actually has to work- in a high visibility forum!
Each year the lessons to be learned in the process challenge the character of everyone involved.
This years Formula E Race event broke new ground for Art Center and our students found new ways to direct the energy in their rubber band powered cars.
Grad ID faculty Stan Kong reached out to a number of students at Pasadena City College, where he also teaches, to connect them with Formula E. Ultimately, eight PCC students and 14 Grad ID students formed seven different teams to not only design and build Formula E racecars, but to raise money for six local non-profits.
Two of the student teams selected Kidspace Museum as their charity, taught workshops to classes of young students to build their own rubber-band racers and held a “jr. class” race that opened this year’s event.
Actor/ Emmy award winning host Matt Gallant ( American Inventor, The Planet’s funniest Animals) brought his quick wit to MC our event. Each team had 3 attempts to record their best time in 3 driving events and there were some great racing moments between the top performing teams.
At the end of the day the Carbon 3.0 team took the Best in Show award after wins and new records for the Sinclair Hill Climb and Ashtray Drag race events. Team Flying Squirrel also set a new course record for the figure 8 course and Team Confidential won the Eckles Design and Build Award.
Several hundred people from the Pasadena community including kids and their parents were on campus. The executive directors of the Giesen trust, the Armory Center for the Arts, Kidspace Museum, Sidestreet Projects, representatives from Southern California Public Radio KPCC and Levitt Pavilion were also in attendance.
A distinguished panel of alums, professional designers and guests, including Pasadena City College president Dr. Mark Rocha, reviewed the team designs to elect a winner for the event’s beauty contest: the Eckles design and build award.
Our teams did an outstanding job with their projects, built good will with their promotion and fundraising efforts for local charities and learned about the importance of creating designs that go beyond theory to actually perform and create value for others.
We’ve been getting messages from many that attended that it was one of the most engaging and fun activities they’ve ever experienced. Many of our distinguished group of judges has expressed the same.
We are already thinking about how we can make next year’s event even better!