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The Science (and Art) of Biocrypt II

Though it has been several years since Ahmad Hares took first place for TSA’s Dragster Design competition in Denver, Colorado, his former teacher Richard Platt remembers Ahmad’s dedication to his project and some of the key things he learned and used to create a stunning dragster.

Coming off a 2008 competition where Ahmad had the fastest car but missed some of the elements needed to win the design competition, he and Platt worked out a plan of things Ahmad should learn to improve his chances.

“He really embraced Illustrator and created a visually stunning car – probably one of the prettiest cars I’ve ever seen.” – Richard Platt

According to Platt, the 2008 dragster wasn’t symmetrical or very pretty. Also, Platt said Ahmad had the idea that the downforce theory used in real Formula 1 racing and by many TSA competitors was not a good one for CO2 cars. Instead, he thought creating less friction through a golf-ball dimple design on the wheels would reduce friction and that applying a different theory overall would help. But he couldn’t prove these things.

“That’s one of the things he was extremely driven on, to prove the theories,” Platt said. “He actually used Bernoulli’s principle quite extensively in the car design he came up with.”

So, Ahmad learned three things to solve these issues:

  • CAD (computer-aided drafting), which enabled him to make a symmetrical car.
  • Adobe Illustrator, which helped him create a gorgeous car. Biocrypt II’s metal flake green with skulls leering in the background is a design to remember.

    “He really embraced Illustrator and created a visually stunning car – probably one of the prettiest cars I’ve ever seen,” Platt said.

  • CFD (computer fluid dynamics), which helped him prove his theories about the dimpled wheels. And his car was built with Bernoulli’s principle in mind; as a result, it sat up off the track more than the other dragsters.

Platt said that Ahmad believed that forcing the car down onto the track, as the downforce theory implied, actually created more drag and friction. His theory was to get the car up off the track. It turned out that the race results backed this up, but he proved it first in testing.

“If you look at a lot of cars today in TSA, most of them are trying to copy his principles that he set up back in 2009 when he won.” – Richard Platt

“The CFD digitally verified his principle, and then when he actually raced, he proved it. And his car was so fast off the line that they couldn’t catch up with it. And it got faster too,” Platt said. “What was so impressive to me was that he set out to beat the downforce theory – and he did.

“If you look at a lot of cars today in TSA, most of them are trying to copy his principles that he set up back in 2009 when he won. To Ahmad’s credit, he backed his theory up with science.”