Use of Power Wheels® car to illustrate engineering principles

Howard Medoff, Robert Louis Avanzato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In order to illustrate engineering concepts and increase student interest in engineering as a career, Power Wheels® cars were purchased and provided to student teams in a freshman engineering design course. The teams were asked to "reverse engineer" the vehicles e.g. determine how the power was supplied to the vehicle, examine the transmission, steering mechanism etc. Accelerometers and velocity sensors were also mounted on the vehicles for data collection. Another class of engineering sophomores, majoring in electrical and computer engineering, provided expertise to the freshman design course in the development of control devices, such as an automatic steering and vehicle speed control. The toy car platform was designed to support radio control of vehicle operations and also to allow semi-autonomous operation and vehicle response to sensors (such as an ultrasonic distance sensor) under computer control. This flexibility allows this electric car platform to support a wide range of future experimentation and design projects. Educational resources (lab exercises, team projects) developed to support this activity will be presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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