Perry High’s Research and Design class was recently awarded ‘100 People for Perry’ funds pertaining their yearly build of economic-friendly cars later put in a state-wide competition at Southeast Polk. According to Industrial Technology Instructor, Calvin Smith, Perry has owned a number of first place trophies since its 1997 start, and wishes to expand to other statewide competitions in the future.


“What they do is they build an ultimate mileage car every year,” said Calvin Smith, Industrial Technology Instructor. “It’s for the Industrial Technology Exposition at Southeast Polk: they give us eight ounces of gas and we see how far we can go and get the best fuel.”


According to information gathered from the contest, the purpose of the competition at Southeast Polk is defined as the follows: “For industrial Technology students to design and build a high mileage vehicle to compete with other schools from around the state at the Iowa Industrial Technology Exposition.”


In order to be eligible for the competition, custom built vehicles must fit specific requirements, to name a few: “each vehicle must have a steering geometry capable of 35 ft. maximum inside turning radius,” the maximum speed of the vehicle is 20 mph and the minimum is 10 mph, vehicles must be able to start from a “dead stop” under its own power.


Since Perry first entered the contest in 1997, the school has taken home 15 ‘First Place’ trophies. The projects typically cost around $3,000 dollars to build.


Last year, Perry took three cars to the competition.


“The school does not fund us to build the cars, and the cars have gotten more expensive as technology improves,” Smith said.


In the past, to gain funds for sturdy, strong materials, the industrial program was able to find sponsor from businesses and individuals throughout the community.


“We have a trailer for the Industrial Technology department and sell sponsorship’s for us to build the car,” Smith said.


Those who wish to advertise on their trailer, one that is typically brought to parades and has been seen frequently around town, have financially helped the department with the development of the vehicle, as well as provided students with the necessary tools to construct the car.


“We have been very dominant in this competition for a long time,” Smith said.


This year, a change in rules has altered the way Perry enters the competition. Today, cars must be built new every year, not simply modified as they had been in past years.


Instead of designing a vehicle for ten years, the class will now focus on designs that last for one year.


“We’ve been bringing three to five cars and we really wanted to step back,” Smith said. “We totally revamped our design to make them easier and quicker to build.”


Along with a change in rules, a shift has been made from extending the build of the project to a full school year in contrast to only one semester.


“Class size ranges from 15 to 20 [students],” Smith said. “We used to do it in spring semester, and this year we’re doing it all year long.”


In the past, students were able to complete the project during both class time as well as a combined class average of 50 out of school hours.


As far as future plans, Smith says the group hopes to branch out to more competitions.


“We’re really looking to go to races out of state,” Smith said. “There’s neighboring states that have really well put together races and really good competitions.”


Expanding in the future could mean the development of national recognition for the high school students involved.


“We’re trying to get involved at a higher level.”


Funds for the project will go towards the overall project, as well as the necessary parts.


“We really appreciate the 100 People for Perry for choosing us, and all of our sponsors, Smith said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have this class.”