Chelsea students drive home first

A group of Chelsea students engineered a lot of attention in Indianapolis, Ind. placing first and third at the Institute of Affordable Transportation&8217;s

Seventh Annual Basic Utility Vehicle competition last month.

&8220;We put in a lot of extra hours on the cars,&8221; student Shannon Foster said. &8220;Finally seeing the vehicle driving and going through the courses, and doing so well, was a real pay-off.&8221;

The event brings together ideas from college students across the country to develop a simple, low-cost utility vehicle that will benefit people in developing countries. Ten collegiate teams, as well as one other non-collegiate team, competed.

Six classes of eighth grade students at Chelsea Middle School designed and built two vehicles in two semesters. The first class did most of the design work and completed 80 percent of the first car, while the next five classes refined components and finished the cars.

&8220;Just getting one car done is a feat but to show up with two cars, at their age, was really competitive and great for the kids,&8221; said Brian Copes, technology teacher at Chelsea Middle School.

The students placed in the open class division. In this category, the cars had to be put together from scratch. In the power module division cars were built around a Toyota front end, which consisted of the axis and transmission.

Overall, between the two divisions the Chelsea group placed fourth. Northern Illinois University powered their vehicle with a 12.5 horse power engine. Chelsea&8217;s car ran on a 4.5 horse power engine.

Foster said one of the greatest benefits was meeting senior engineering students and professors from various colleges. Copes said he believes this will lead more students to consider engineering as a career goal.

&8220;This is beyond me,&8221; Copes said. &8220;The kids now feel successful and things they once thought were beyond them, they are now not afraid of.&8221;