Engineering camp participants design, build race cars


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Fifty-two students raced into engineering during a camp at St. Ambrose University in June.
The students learned about chemistry laws, rockets, thermodynamics, the magic of physics, aerodynamics and more, said Michael Opar, the university’s engineering department chair.

Anne Marie Amacher
Michael Opar, St. Ambrose University engineering department chair, readies cars for a race June 26 by students who participated in an engineering camp at the Davenport university.

To demonstrate what they learned, the students designed, built and painted their own race cars and tested them in a wind tunnel before the final race.

On June 26 the students and family members gathered in Lee Lohman Arena to race the cars. Opar lined up the cars and pushed a button that shot CO2 as the propellant for the cars to race down the track to the finish line. Tom Yang, an engineering and physics professor, moved the cars out of the way for the next race.


Rachel Serianz, an education professor, said the program typically has been limited to 48 students, but this year one more team of four participated. “We are at capacity.” Afterwards, teachers and volunteers also raced cars that they made.

Joshua Riesberg of Eldridge said the week was “amazing. I loved designing a CO2 dragster and doing the wind tunnel testing. I would come back.”

Kian Pfannenstiel and Cullen Langley, both of Orion, Illinois, said they enjoyed building and racing their cars. Both have made cars in the past for Cub Scouts as part of the Pinewood Derby. “I highly recommend this camp,” Langley said.

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