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University Relations

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September 28, 2005
Contact: Jill Hummels, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2934.

Mousetrap car is focus of high school design contest

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas School of Engineering is sponsoring an extreme makeover for wheels. The 18th Annual High School Design Competition invites high school students from around the state and in the Kansas City metropolitan area to build a "mousetrap car" that can complete certain objectives.

The event, which will be Oct. 25 in Eaton Hall on KU's Lawrence campus, typically attracts between 100 and 200 students who are interested in testing their analytical and design skills. Students, working in teams of three to five members each, must design and construct a vehicle powered only by a spring from a simple, standard mousetrap and bring it to the competition. Students are given a lot of leeway in their designs, but the vehicle must be completely self-contained, powered only by one mousetrap spring and be less than 30 centimeters by 30 centimeters in size. A mousetrap car constructed from any commercially available kit will not be allowed.

" Every year the students bring some amazing devices to KU. I really look forward to seeing the results of their efforts," said Associate Dean of Engineering Robert Sorem. The goal of the competition is to introduce students to the fun and creativity found in the engineering profession. "Most high school students aren't sure what engineering is. With this contest we can show them that it's not just about crunching numbers. Engineering is about exploration, designing, testing and some really cool stuff."

Participants will take part in three different head-to-head competition events: speed, power and skidpad (handling). The first test identifies how quickly each car can cover an 8-meter track. The power test demonstrates how quickly each vehicle can tackle a 15-degree incline. The skidpad test will see how well each car can navigate a .75-meter radius circle. Awards will be given to the top finishing teams.

Complete contest rules and online registration are available at Lunch will be provided for all participants and parking passes will be available for registered schools. Teachers who want more information about participating should contact Jennifer Schmitendorf at or (785) 864-2931. The registration deadline is Oct. 7.

Teams must have a teacher or adult sponsor with them at the event, but the free competition is open to all high school students. Participants also will be able to take tours of School of Engineering facilities and laboratories. Visitors will have a chance to talk with faculty and KU students about the different disciplines of engineering.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus. | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045