Students to compete in skill event

PARKERSBURG – A group of area students will test their creativity and engineering skills in May at the Ten80 NASCAR Student Racing Challenge in Charlotte, N.C.

The students are seniors in the engineering technology program at the Caperton Center for Applied Technology. The student team known as Mountain Muscle will compete May 17 against student racing teams from across the United States.

The annual event is sponsored by NASCAR and is a project-based competition based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) curriculum. Students use electric radio controlled (RC) cars to create products and work together in ways that parallel the preparation of NASCAR teams. Student teams showcase their work and compete over the Internet and nationally in categories including project management, race engineering, aerodynamic design, alternative energy, creative engineering and graphic design.

This is the second year students from the Caperton Center have participated in the event.

“Last year was our first year competing, and the team won aerodynamic design,” said Curtis Shriver, engineering technology instructor at the Caperton Center, on the campus at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. “This year is a whole new group and they are entering more categories and hoping for more wins.”

One of those categories in the robo racecar where students must design a self-driving vehicle. The car is programmed to run a race course and must complete the course on its own without outside aid.

Edward Krinock, of Parkersburg High School, is part of the group working on the robo racecar, and said this year’s harsh winter and numerous missed school days mean the team is scrambling to get its work done before the competition.

“With all of the snow days we haven’t been able to do as much early on, but we’re really getting into it now,” he said.

While challenging, Krinock said he didn’t feel the work was difficult.

“My favorite part is the programming. I’m really into computers,” he said. “The most challenging part is probably the wiring because there is so much to do. That’s definitely not my favorite part.”

The team also will compete in the areas of aerodynamics, alternative engineering and creative engineering.

Deke Westbrook, of Williamstown High School, is part of the aerodynamics competition, the area in which last year’s team won. Westbrook said the goal this year is to construct a car body even better than last year’s model.

“Our challenge is to make a high-downforce, low-drag car,” he said.

Westbrook said the team is using multiple body stylings, including last year’s design, to find the correct mix of aerodynamic elements.

“I think it’s pretty good,” what they have so far, he said.

The engineering program students hail from all three Wood County Schools high schools. Shriver said he believes the team has the potential this year to bring home multiple wins.

“They have interests and talents all over the place,” he said. “I am looking for a lot of good things out of these guys.”

Mountaineer Muscle is currently contacting local businesses for sponsorship opportunities, in order to raise the necessary funds to travel to Charlotte to compete in the national competition. For more information on how to make a donation or become a team sponsor, contact Curtis Shriver, engineering technology instructor at CCAT, at 1-304-483-2278 or by e-mail at cshriver@access.k12.wv.us.