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Camp CAR introduces high school students to automotive engineering

With support from the Honda-Ohio State Partnership, The Center for Automotive Research hosted 10 high school students at Camp CAR, a week-long summer camp focused on automotive engineering.

Mentored by a variety of engineers and researchers, the students enjoyed building a model car in the machine shop, honing their driving skills in the Driving Simulator, working with simulations and modeling, and touring facilities including the Transportation Research Center (TRC) and a Honda manufacturing plant.

Throughout the week, teams of students designed and built a model car that they raced on the final day of camp. While each team started with the same model car, they were encouraged to manipulate different aspects to affect it's performance and energy efficiency.

The high schoolers also conducted 3D simulations, where they learned about structural optimization and how air flows over the model cars.

“It was cool to apply what I learned in physics class last year to the simulations,” said Marysville Early College STEM School rising senior Isabel Delamater.

At TRC's Impact Laboratory, the students learned about transportation safety research from the best in the business.

“I liked seeing the crash test dummies and I learned about how simulations save time and money compared to actual crash tests,” said Howard Wang, a rising junior at Columbus Academy.  

The Honda tour was the first time in a manufacturing plant for many of the campers. They saw popular models on the assembly line and learned it takes 18 hours to build a car from start to finish, nine of which are in the paint shop.

A highlight for many of the students was hearing from industrial designer JD Orr, whose background includes designing vehicle exteriors for Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac to name a few. They enjoyed watching Orr sketch car designs right in front of them.

"I was very inspired by his presentation,” said Alain Welliver who will be a sophomore at Upper Arlington High School and hopes to one day study industrial design. “He gave life tips while talking about his career that I thought were really valuable.”

While all of the students who attended camp had an initial interest in engineering, their experiences throughout the week solidified the decision for some.

“I always thought I wanted to major in mechanical engineering with an automotive focus on reducing carbon emissions," said Delamater, "but after my experience at Camp CAR I know that’s the area of engineering I definitely want to study."

by Colleen Herr, Marketing and Communications Specialist, CAR