Date of Last Revision

2021-09-09 04:12:53


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2015

Research Sponsor

R. J. Gross

First Reader

Jerry E. Drummond

Second Reader

S. Graham Kelly


In 1934, Akron, Ohio was the hosting town for the inaugural running of the All American Soap Box Derby Championships. The world renowned competition is held at Derby Downs every July for hundreds of participants. The Soap Box Derby has been a crucial ambassador for the importance of inspiring younger generations to seek future education in STEM related fields. Joe Mazur, President and CEO of the AASBD association, approached the Mechanical Engineering department with the hope of having mechanical engineering undergraduate seniors develop a new competition for high school level students around the nation. He envisioned that the design team would first develop the competition and then the scoring system from the ground up. The competition is meant to introduce future college students to the importance of engineering, the role of economics in engineering, and to have fun learning to build creative cars. The most important aspect of the engineering aspect of design is to qualify which vehicle dynamics parameters play the largest role in lap time reduction of a car rolling down the track at Derby Downs. A parametric study was conducted using the exact dimensions of Derby Downs. The parameters being studied included vehicle aerodynamic drag coefficient, vehicle frontal area, tire and bearing rolling resistance, vehicle weight, and vehicle weight distribution. The most significant changeable variables with accordance to AASBD guidelines (tires have to be AASBD standard wheels) are frontal area and drag coefficient. The design team was divided into one of three sub-teams that would focus on one aspect of the scoring system, such that high school students could see different approaches to the same problem. Each team developed a car based either on aesthetics, cost efficiency, or vehicle aerodynamics (fastest car). A coast down test at Derby Downs was conducted to verify and compare theoretical and experimental results. Lastly, a PowerPoint presentation with competition guidelines and helpful tips were passed onto AASBD to help supplement instructions for high school students. With the design of the new AASBD high school competition, there is hope that it inspires future engineers, and that the competition will become another staple within the tradition that is the All American Soap Box Derby.



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