Students at the Delaware Area Career Center recently designed, built, and test drove adult tricycles as part of an assignment in the Engineering Technology course.
Engineering Technology Instructor Nick Steffen said he got the idea for the project after playing with his children and thinking that designing adult tricycles would make for a good challenge for his students.
“I thought to myself, ‘We can do all of this in class.’” he said.
Steffen added he wanted the project to cover several engineering subjects, not just designing.
“They not only had to design and build these tricycles, they had to figure out how to mass produce and market them,” Steffen said. “They made plans to source their materials, budgeted the costs, and figured out how much they could sell it to make a profit. As part of this project, they designed a theoretical plant, complete with a floor plan to produce their tricycle. It’s not often that students get to work on a full project from beginning to end like this.”
Steffen said students broke into teams and were given the same sets of basic supplies and tools, adding he brought in a few child-sized tricycles to use a models and challenged students to create adult-sized ones of their own design. Steffen said the projects had to include research, design, budgeting, building, production, marketing and sales.
John Simonis, a senior in the program from Olentangy High School, said he enjoyed the project.
“This was awesome,” he said. “It was the coolest project I’ve ever gotten to work on.”
Simonis explained the team had total creative control, and they focused on making the tricycle lightweight and compact for easy storage and transport. He said everything on the tricycle bolts together, so it can be taken apart and easily put back together.
“We had to think about who our target market is and how they would use it,” Simonis said. “We want people to be able to take our tricycle places and fit it in their car.”
Simonis said the final design was actually the third revision of the tricycle.
“We fine-tuned it along the way to fit our teams’ ergonomics,” Simonis said. “We’re all different heights and weights, so we made everything adjustable. We wanted everyone to be able to use it. We also know through physics simulations in (a computer simulation) that the max weight for the tricycle is 400 pounds.”
Simonis added the team “learned a lot about new manufacturing processes.”
Evan McDonald, one of Simonis’ teammates and a fellow senior at Olentangy High School, said he’s proud of how the tricycle turned out, especially how it handles.
“It corners aggressively,” he said. “We put a lot of time into adding extra power, but also securing safety equipment.”
Tarun Subbarayalu, a senior from Olentangy Liberty High School, said the team finished early and spent a lot of time testing and then fine-tuning.
“We tested it first with our teachers and made changes based on their feedback,” Subbarayalu said. “Then we invited the administrators and teachers to take the tricycles for a ride and test them. We continued to make adjustments based on everyone’s feedback.”
Subbarayalu added the team, which also included Timothy Kolva, a senior from Olentangy Orange High School, also learned another important skill during the project.
“We also learned how important it is to communicate,” Subbarayalu said. “We made a point of eating lunch together and talking about the project outside of class. That really helped us focus while we were in class and get past disagreements quickly.”
Members of the team said they all plan to study engineering after they leave the DACC. Subbarayalu and Kolva will be attending Ohio State University next year for mechanical engineering, Simonis will attend OSU for materials science and engineering, and McDonald will attend Columbus College of Art & Design for a two-year program and then transfer to Bowling Green State University for mechanical engineering with a focus in robotics.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.