Home > The Track > Student Spotlights > Middle School Champ: CO2 Racing is all About Engineering

Middle School Champ: CO2 Racing is all About Engineering

Middle School Dragster Design champ Ryan McGary knows that creating a winning car involves much more than simply shaping a block of wood. To him, it’s truly an engineering process. Ryan, a student at Carlos E. Haile Middle School of Bradenton, Florida, started by building his car in virtual form – using professional SolidWorks 3D design software.

The software enabled Ryan to simulate airflow testing on the computer. He was able to tweak his designs many times before beginning the actual construction of the car. This is part of a learning process facilitated by Ryan’s TSA advisor and teacher Justin Erickson. “We’re taking everything in-house. We’re trying to manufacture in-house to show these kids the manufacturing process,” he said.

In addition to his computer simulations, Ryan built five real cars – the last one was the champion racer. The car wheels are Ryan’s own creation. Once again, he began by designing them in SolidWorks, and then he manufactured the final product using a CNC lathe. The hard work culminated in success – he took home second place in the Florida TSA state competition, followed by a national title in the 2010 TSA Dragster Design middle school event.

Although Ryan and his classmates are just in middle school, they have experienced the real-world engineering process more thoroughly than most people will in a lifetime.

More from TSA 2010: