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Use of Power Wheels® Car to Illustrate Engineering Principles

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

DEED Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1595.1 - 22.1595.10



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Paper Authors


Howard Medoff Pennsylvania State University, Ogontz

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Associate Professor of Engineering, Penn State, Abington.

Research Interests include Gait Analysis
and Friction Characteristics of Human Locomotion.

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Robert L. Avanzato Pennsylvania State University, Abington

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Bob Avanzato is an Associate Professor of engineering at Penn State, Abington.

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Use of Power Wheels® Car to Illustrate Engineering PrinciplesIn order to illustrate engineering concepts and increase students’ knowledge/interest in engineering as a career, Power Wheels® cars were purchased, given to thestudents (each team received one vehicle) in a freshman engineering design course.The teams were asked to “reverse engineer” the vehicles e.g. determine how the powerwas supplied to the vehicle, examine the transmission, steering mechanism etc.Accelerometers and velocity sensors were mounted on the vehicles. Another class ofengineering sophomores, majoring in electrical and computer engineering, providedexpertise to the freshman design course in the development of control devices, such asan automatic steering and vehicle speed control. The toy car platform was designed tosupport radio control of vehicle operations and also to allow semi-autonomous operationand vehicle response to sensors (such as an ultrasonic distance sensor) under computercontrol. This flexibility allows this electric car platform to support a wide range of futureexperimentation and design projects. Educational resources (lab exercises, team projects)developed to support this activity and the preliminary assessment will be presented.

Medoff, H., & Avanzato, R. L. (2011, June), Use of Power Wheels® Car to Illustrate Engineering Principles Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18468

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