Small cars powered by rubber bands have generated significant attention in Washington, D.C.
The Dream It. Do It. 500 (DIDI500) has been recognized by The Manufacturing Institute as a “best practice” for successfully engaging youth in manufacturing and STEM-related activities.
St. Bonaventure’s ENACTUS service group partnered with DIDI Western New York coordinator Evelyn Sabina to host the event at the university for the third straight year.
“I think that it’s wonderful how the event relates to manufacturing and gives the students a true picture of what it’s like in the industry because it involves not just one element, it involves all of them,” said Sabina.
The annual rubber band-powered car race competition targets high school students in the Southern Tier. Teams of four students are given two and a half hours to construct cars with the help of local engineers. The cars are raced, measuring distance, accuracy and how much weight they can carry.
After the races, the students have 20 minutes to prepare a two-to three-minute marketing pitch, which is presented to university professors and students. The goal is to sell their car to the panel of judges. Teams are judged on their creativity, professionalism and team involvement.
“I don’t think my business will survive without programs that Dream It. Do It. provides. Period. It’s the lifeblood to my organization,” said Chris Napoleon, president and CEO of Napoleon Engineering Services and a supporter of the DIDI500.
The Manufacturing Institute is the leading authority on the attraction, qualification, and development of world-class manufacturing talent.
In partnership with some of the leading consulting firms in the country, the Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.
The D.C.-based foundation is packaging a series of best practices by DIDI organizations across the country for inclusion in its upcoming “Inspiring the Next Generation” toolkit.
ENACTUS, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that promotes partnership between leaders in business and university students to make a difference in their local communities.
Mike Pingelski, an SBU accounting major entering his senior year this fall, helped create the DIDI500 three years ago.
“We created this event because we saw a serious need for students to develop STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) skills at an early age,” Pingelski said. “With St. Bonaventure being located in the Rust Belt, these skills are demanded in order for this area to grow economically.”
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