IVCC’s 13th Annual Edible Car Contest crosses the finish line to success
OGLESBY — Many things can be considered while wandering the aisles to select what will go in the grocery cart, but speed and structural integrity aren’t likely to be among them.
However, these characteristics were obviously on the minds of the competitors at IVCC’s 13th annual Edible Car Contest that was held in the school’s cafeteria last week.
The contest’s reputation for fun and humorous unpredictability helped pack the cafeteria to capacity and fill it with laughter and applause.
Faculty members, Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) students and area high schools brought 36 highly creative entries to compete in a variety of categories including speed, design, creativity, detail, best crash, most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse, meatiness, most healthy, most delicious and best wheel-man.
“This is our biggest field of entrants yet, and it gets better every year,” CAD instructor and emcee Dorene Data said.
The contest is held in celebration of National Engineering Week, with Data saying, “Everything you own started with an idea from an engineer.”
With the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities at area schools, it was surprising there weren’t more teams entered from area high schools.
However, students from DePue, St. Bede, Hall, LaMoille and Streator fielded multiple cars and took home several awards.
“I like how much it makes you think as the team works to get everything to hold together,” DePue junior Diego Madrigal said before the races began. His team eventually took home seven medals.
“It’s a great team-building exercise, and I enjoy the trial and error,” IVCC sophomore Michelle Lakan said. Lakan successfully raced a high-speed Rice Krispies car down the track.
The contest was created through an award from a National Science Foundation Grant and receives additional support from IVCC’s Workforce Development Division. It’s also been nominated four times for a Bellwether Award, which is given to unique community college programs.
IVCC’s Electronics students are also important to the contest. Program coordinator James Gibson said while he engineered the initial track, controls and timing components, it’s disassembled after each year.
Prior to the next year’s competition, his students will re-engineer it, often with adjustments, substitutions and improvements.
Keeping with the sense of humor of the entries, the track measures speed in “mouthfuls per second.”
While many cars were wildly individual, there were some noticeable trends in this year’s field that were also quite different from last year’s racers. Common items and methods spotted were frozen ingredients; sausage bodies; cookies for wheels; pretzel stick axles; and peep and gummy bear drivers.
A common challenge faced by the culinary engineering teams included maintaining structural integrity across the finish line. At the other end of that spectrum were the cars that didn’t move at all.
Unfortunately for LaMoille’s Thomas Molln and Will Flanatan, this was the second year their entry was stubborn at the starting line. Last year’s car likely set a record for the longest time as it slowly slid sideways down the track before falling over on its side at the finish. This year’s entry fared worse as it failed to move at all.
Asked what the biggest challenge of the contest was, Molln laughingly said, “Getting it to move.”
The teams also showed creativity through the names of their cars, as there was the Taco Tornado, The Meat Mobile, The Bread Monster, The Hot Rod Hoagie (which clocked the fastest time), Speed of Lifesaver and The English Cannon.
One of the most ambitious and colorful entries was the car made entirely out of candy. With a body and wheels made from melted Jolly Ranchers and featuring candy cane axles, it ultimately proved too sticky, as it was another entry that didn’t want to cross the starting line.
“I enjoyed working as a group and the friendships it helped create,” Seth Ludford, a junior at St. Bede, said.
“I liked the design process and seeing how far your imagination can go,” DJ Piper, an IVCC student from Princeton, said during the races.
After the races, each team was asked to complete a survey that asked about how the design process challenged them; whether it increased their interest in engineering; what they enjoyed about the contest; how familiar they were with IVCC’s engineering programs; and whether or not it helped show them how much creativity was involved in engineering’s many fields.
With more entrants each year, next year’s contest should once again prove the creativity and resourcefulness of local STEM students.
For more information, visit www.ivcc.edu/ediblecar or email Dorene Data at Dorene_Data@ivcc.edu.