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Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Team  March 20th, 2014

Our engineering team got a chance to peak into the auto shop of Oregon State University’s Formula SAE Racing Team.  The team won a national championship back in 2010 and is trying to do so again this year.  Never heard of Formula SAE racing? In this trailer of the short film Relentless the OSU team shows part of the process in preparing for this race.  Be sure to check out Youtube to see all of Relentless.

When our engineering team stepped inside the shop of this year’s Formula SAE team, they got to have a sneak peak of how a part is designed and engineered. This end cap is an important engine part that will help the formula car go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. Check it out:

Engineering Team: Completed Project  March 20th, 2014

The team has finished! In this video they show off their cable car along with the extra activity walls needed to check off their requirements (which are different than yours). Their project also easily comes apart so it can travel and makes its way to you guys!

The team says their final good-byes and recaps on what worked well in their project.  The guys said teamwork is what really made their project run smoothly so make sure to watch the teamwork video if you have not done so already. We cannot wait to show you their finished project during the Middle School Challenge!

Engineering Team: Cable Car Videos  March 20th, 2014

The engineering team introduces some videos that may be useful to your cable car project.  The videos shows the assembly and disassembly of ski lifts, which are very much like cable cars but not identical.  What are the differences you see? How can this be applied to your project? Let us know in the comments section below!

Video 1: Chairlift Assembly

Video 2: Chairlift Tower Disassembly

Video 3: Peak to Peak Cable Installation

Engineering Team: Code of Ethics  March 20th, 2014

This week Alex talks to us about the engineering code of ethics. Webster’s Dictionary defines ethics as: “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”.  This can play a role when you engineer a product that is for the masses, such as your cable car.  These practices are good to keep in mind when you incorporate safety into your cable car. Take a listen to the engineering code of ethics!

Test Your Cable Car  February 28th, 2014

The mechanical engineering team wants to help you with some of your cable car requirements. First, you must have requirements that are testable.  You also need to find the best test for the requirements you want to meet.  The guys show you how their cable car testing was done and signed off by their professor. Just a reminder your cable car must: cross the 5-foot span of string without falling off, balance on the span without any assistance, have no more than two strings may be used for the cable car, have no human assistance can be used during the operation of the cable car, be able to move in both directions, be reliable and safe, and travel quickly. Good luck!

The Mechanical Engineering Team is Back!  February 3rd, 2014

Alex, Erik, and Jared are back again to give you more helpful hints on this year’s Middle School Challenge.  To recap the last time we heard from them, they helped define the customer for our upcoming cable car project.  Today the group wants to share with you what type of materials they are using to please the customer, which may look a little different than the materials you may end up using.  They also encourage you to be more efficient by planning your materials and budget ahead of time.  The team is here to break it all down for you.

Alex is here to talk to you about a budget and schedule.  Both are an important part of the engineering process.  The video even shows you the team’s timeline for their own cable car.  We may not have the same timeline the group does but time management is an important factor in this project.  What do you think will be the first item on your schedule? How long should it take you?

Jared is helpful in breaking down what materials you may come across in your project.  He elaborates on where you can get these various supplies.  Don’t worry we do have most of the supplies for you, but what supplies do you think you will need? Where do you think is the best place to purchase those supplies?  Feel free to share your answers in our comment section.

Cable Car Curriculum  February 3rd, 2014

Our cable car curriculum keeps expanding and we are happy to share with you more lessons in this PowerPoint from the SMILE Teacher’s Workshop.  Included in the slides are customer requirements and design elements that will help with the Middle School Challenge.  This would be a great lesson plan to show middle school students to get them motivated and inspired!

Cable Car Research Ideas  January 21st, 2014

As our team member Alex had said last week research is an important part of the engineering process. We wanted to help you out with this process.  Cable cars can be seen in a variety of shapes and sizes but also in plenty of places around the world.  We wanted to show you an example of some of the varieties of cable cars to help inspire you.

  • San Francisco is one of the few places in the United States to still have a cable car with an underground wire.  The cable car museum shows you the many components that are used to make this possible.


  • New York has a long history of various types of cable cars.  Their Transit Museum website breaks down the differences between their various types of transportation.  Keep track of the differences because there will be important for your design.


  • Most of these cars are fixed onto the cable and the cables move.  However, there are cars that move on a fixed cable.  The differences can be confusing but look out for them in this video of a cable can on the West Cost Trail in Canada.


Hopefully these websites allowed you to answer some important questions.  After looking at our research and doing some on your own you should be able to understand the difference between the different cable cars, how people go from concept to reality while making a cable car, and how various cable cars work. We encourage you to expand on this research and try to figure out what your customer may be as a cable car company.  Earlier this week Erik talked about design being not only important to customers but to the function of your cable car.  What design factors might make your car most efficient?  Happy researching!