Students compete to make best car: Chelsea eighth graders seek national title

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Chelsea Middle School students are getting the chance to support humanitarian work in an unexpected way &045;&045; by building a car.

Eighth grade technology students are participating in a competition, sponsored by the Institute for Affordable Transportation, to design cost efficient cars for underdeveloped countries.

&8220;(We&8217;ll) make affordable vehicles … that can be built with simple tools for people,&8221; said Brian Copes, technology and career discovery teacher at CMS.

Regular western style cars are extremely costly to build and purchase. Copes said cars are expensive for most Americans, and even more so for people in poorer countries.

Students are designing and building three prototypes. The students also make the car parts, all while learning engineering and construction skills.

The class, which consists of eighth grade boys and girls, uses a wide variety of tools during the construction process.

Most students say they love using a large drilling machine, which carves holes into thick sheets of metals.

&8220;Drilling!&8221; said student Evan Sznajderman, recalling his favorite part of car building.

Students are receiving help from professors from Auburn and UAB as well as donations of steel, transaxles and engines from various companies.

The late April competition, which is nationwide, will place the Chelsea teens against high school and college students, said Copes.

&8220;I think we can beat them,&8221; said Sznajderman, who has been a part of the class about three months. &8220;We have a great teacher, and I think we can beat them.&8221;