MCCTC Machine Team Revs Its Engines for Year-End Project

CANFIELD, Ohio — Joe Sander loosened the grip of the mini-sized steering wheel, thrusting his hands straight up in the air.

The short straightway to a makeshift finish line behind the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center provided just enough time for the school’s auto collision repair instructor to celebrate the victory at Friday’s MCCTC Machine Team five-lap, go-kart race.

Nineteen people surrounded the lime green motorized vehicle inches off the ground near the end of the race, which attracted about 100 people from around the school. The group vaulted a metallic piston cup trophy to signify the team’s win, a fitting conclusion for an end-of-the-school year project in the making since fall of 2020.

The race featured four vehicles maneuvering around the outlined 0.42-mile course. A plethora of twists and turns challenged the stability and handling of each vehicle, which was constructed by students over course of the school year. One vehicle stalled prior to the starting line and did not participate in the race.

“We were quick off the start,” Sander said. “Speed isn’t everything. We were quick off the start and quick off the turns, which of course helped us pull ahead.”

MCCTC faculty and students hoist a metallic piston cup trophy after the race.

School math instructor Dustin Cramer utilized his knowledge by fine-tuning the gearing and four symmetrical tires to adjust for the curvy course, Sander said.

The math elements, physics, acceleration, top speeds, gear ratios came into play during Friday’s race with the winning vehicle clocked at around 30 miles per hour and completing one lap of the course in a minute and 15 seconds.

“I think what you saw there was math at it’s finest,” Cramer said. “That’s what I tried to explain to the kids.”

The ratio between the rotational speeds of the two meshing gears of the vehicle impacted the vehicle’s performance. Having a lower gear ratio gave the vehicle more torque. This course, which was designed by one of Sander’s crew, accommodated a car with faster acceleration and could endure more turns.

“That’s kind of what the math said it would be, and that’s what we saw,” Cramer said.

Junior Tristen Hutchko was the course’s architect. He said he didn’t want any straightaways. The student body voted on whose design would be used.

“Our car was agile and very quick off the start,” he said. “I tried to make sure there were a bunch of turns and no straightaways.”

A lot of rebuilding and work went into this vehicle, says Junior Mason Colwell. Lower gearing on the kart provided the quick entrance and exits out of the turns around the winding course.

“It held its own all the way through,” he says.

You can read more on this project in the June 2021 edition of The Business Journal. Subscribe to our All Access Print & Digital plan to get your copy!

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