The 2013 Edible Car Contest


It wasn’t a record-breaking race for the Edible Car Contest Wednesday at Illinois Valley Community College, but students from Hall High School dominated the Speed competition for the second year in a row.

Teams of Hall calculus students won First and Third in the Speed competition in the eighth annual contest, which IVCC hosts in celebration of National Engineering Week.

This year’s fastest vehicle was designed and built by Olivia Brandner, Jacquelyn Petzel, Alex Olivares and Sam Rizzo, under the team name of The Uncle Worms. The Third Place car was built by the Going Cakeless team of Joe Parochetti, Rebekah Dagraedt, and Abney Bernardini. Math teacher Jill Bruner advised the students.

Last year, Hall students swept the Speed category, but this year, a pair of IVCC students, Kevin Smith and Logan Koepke, took second place racing under a team name of Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies.

An IVCC student team named Smokin’ Hot Babes, which finished in the middle of the pack for Speed, was the overall winner in the contest, taking a First Place in three categories: Design, Detail and Prospective Engineers. The Smokin’ Hot Babes are Marsha Weidert, Katherine Duda and Amber Wade.

A Putnam County High School team was second overall, winning a First in Creativity and First in the High School category. That team, named the Cannoli Buggy, included Loralee Wilson, Maddi Loiselle, and Katie Alleman. Biology teacher Andrea Skinner advised the students.

"Our purpose is to demonstrate that STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, can be creative and fun," said contest organizer Dorene Peres, Program Coordinator of Computer-Aided Design at IVCC. And according to participants, the contest succeeded.

"Eating the leftovers" emerged as a real plus for some participants.

And the challenges, similar to past years, were "figuring out the axels" and "keeping it from breaking."

Many of the participants said they really enjoyed the teamwork involved and seeing the vehicle work. And a plus, according to one participant, was: "Even though our car got into an accident, the passengers are okay."

While the speed contest continues to be the highlight of the event, the 58 participants on 18 teams competed for prizes in eight other categories. One vehicle, produced by a team named the Veggie Wheels, wasn’t able to slide down the track, even with a little help. But it won a First in Nutrition and Second in Design and in Detail. That vehicle, one of the top overall winners, was designed by IVCC students Billie Scamen, Cassie Platt and Jeni Shute.

The cars may have been low tech, but the timing for the speed competition was definitely high tech. Under the Guidance of Jim Gibson, the Program Coordinator of Electronics, electronics students designed, programmed and built a programmable logic controller (PLC) to time the speed on the track. The control was connected to a computer running Rockwell automated software. The timing setup utilized a reflective photo eye at the start and finish.

In addition to recording the time, the software also translated the time into "mouthfuls per hour."

To highlight National Engineering Week, as spectators and participants were gathering for the speed competition, they competed for prizes by completing a quiz on engineering career information. Correct answers were announced during the awards ceremony.

The quiz question that generated the most incorrect answers was about the percentage of people in engineering careers who are women, Perez said.

"Women make up less than 20 percent of the engineering workforce," she said, explaining that most people believe there is a much higher percentage.

"That’s one reason why there is a big push nationally to increase the exposure of young women to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math]."

The contest was sponsored by the IVCC Division of Career and Technical Programs and the Making Industry Meaningful In College (MIMIC) project. The contest originated in 2006 with support from a National Science Foundation grant.

Judges were IVCC educational technologists Mary Smith and Dawn Lockwood and engineering technology student Kevin Staton. The Student Government Association provided pizza.

Organizers were Perez, Gibson and communications instructor Rose Marie Lynch.

In 2012, IVCC’s Edible Car Contest was one of ten finalists for a prestigious Bellwether Award, a national award which recognizes outstanding and innovative community college projects. That was the second nomination IVCC received for the contests.

Contest organizers have written a "how to" handbook and given workshops at a number of national conferences to encourage and assist teachers to organize contests as a fun way to provide hands-on experience for classroom content with students of all ages.

Further information on IVCC’s edible car contests and a copy of the handbook are available on the college web site at