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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.


Popo May 31, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Amazing! What a fun event. Is there still a multi-HIgh School amphibious vehicle competition like the old days? I'd like to see coverage of that as well. I look forward to the day when these young engineers design transport vehicles without wheels or the need for roads......ripping up city streets and highways to create community gardens and parks for all.
Tracy May 31, 2012 at 01:54 PM
It's great that Redwood High School has an engineering class; not all schools still have these classes.
Derek Wilson May 31, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I wish we had classes like this and teachers like Richard Esteb when I was in high school. It's with events like this that point out how really special Redwood High is.
Popo June 01, 2012 at 02:19 AM
UC Berkeley has one of the best engineering departments in the country. One of the first required Cal engineering lab courses is Bicycles 101, in which students take apart and rebuild bicycles. These high school students seem beyond this...Good Job...Prepare our future engineers Mr. Esteb. If we could just get College of Marin to beef up their engineering program as a intermediate step before UC Berkeley. When will Dominican University create an engineering or physics department?

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