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Building a better mousetrap (car)

A competitor watches as her custom-designed car takes off.

Sun Advocate associate editor

The competition had only one rule: all cars must be powered by genuine Victor engines.

Victor in this case being the time-honored, death-dealing mousetrap which for many decades has been reliably transforming potential energy into kinetic to rid the world of rodents.

Since all Victors are created equal, they were standard around which budding engineers had to build their customed designed cars in the USU Eastern mousetrap car competition last week.

According to associate professor of engineering Kyle Larsen, the contest drew 30 to 40 entries from high schools in Carbon, Grand and San Juan counties to the Price campus, along with several USU students.

"The main objective is to get the kids to learn about such things as torque, the physics and science involved in it," Larsen explained. They should come to understand that big wheels are necessary for long distance, smaller wheels for speed.

The second goal is to get the high school students involved in engineering so they'll consider it as a career and come to USU Eastern for their education.

The basic design of a mousetrap car is to have the snapper unwind a string that is wound around the wheel axle. All manner of levers, wheel types and chassis design come in to play in doing this.

Winners of the distance competition were Suni Gigliotti at 59.7 feet and Ahsley Martinez and Connor Gillepsie with 52.4 feet.

Kaira Simpson was first in speed, covering 10 feet in 1.63 seconds, with Jacob Scoville clocked in 1.98 seconds. (Check my math: Kaira's car topped out at about 12.23 feet/second)

Other engineering contests at the college have included balsa wood bridge construction, robotics, rocketry and remote control aircraft construction.

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