Jul 29, 2014

Redwood Students Race To The Finish

Future engineers test their pedal-powered machines during the annual competition around the quad.

The action on the racetrack was full of thrills, chills and even the occasional spill.

It wasn't exactly the Indianapolis 500, but don't tell that to Richard Esteb's engineering students at Redwood High School, who were chasing glory during Wednesday's Engineering Projects Raceday.

The race around the 4-turn course around the quad is an annual event that Esteb hopes will show students the practical and fun side of engineering.

Esteb watched the race with a sense of pride, glee and — maybe — a little jealousy.

"I would have loved to have had the chance to do something like this when I was in high school," he said.

The students designed and built some imaginative creations: three-wheelers, four-wheelers, foot power and hand-crank power. Esteb said he offered critiques, but the ideas all came from the students.

"We went with the chopper design because we wanted speed," junior Rico Pedraza said.

Pedraza and his partners discovered their tricycle's design was fast and lightweight, but a little delicate.

"We had to redo the back axle six times in the past week," junior Schyler Ruhland said. "Under our weight it would bend, so we had to redo the whole axle. … It's faster than the others, though."

Ruhland, Pedraza and their teammates might have gotten a clue from Infineon Raceway.

"I love going to the motorcycle races with my dad," said Pedraza, who watched the AMA West Coast Motojam in Sonoma on May 6-7. "There was a massive crowd and lots of action. It's always enjoyable."

Pedraza plans to put his engineering skills to good use on the dragstrip at Sonoma Raceway. He's working on a '72 Chevelle for the Wednesday Night Drags at the track.

"I'm doing it just for the enjoyment of it all," he said.

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