The pepperoni meets the road

Oreos, marshmallows, potatoes, crackers and pepperoni took the places of rubber tires, metal, steel and aluminum as about 50 first year engineering students built their own cars during Youngstown State University’s first Edible Cars Competition on Thursday.

Kerry Meyers, director of the first-year engineering program, said the event promoted teamwork and provided a fun classroom exercise.

“Now they have to apply everything that they’ve done all semester to something that’s tangible, that they worked on, that they designed,” she said.

Meyers judged the speed, distance and creativity of each students’ cars in comparison to the others.

Each three-student team has been working on this project for the last three weeks, but they only received 20 minutes to construct the car in class.

Freshman engineering student Cody Barker and his team built their car out of cereal treats.

“We molded Rice Krispies into a body of a car,” Barker said. “The axels were thin spaghetti and the wheels were pepperoni. Rice krispies are light and bend and smash easy.”

Barker said if he had another chance, he would have made the car a little higher off the ground with a thicker axel.

“It was really fun making the car and eating all of the leftovers,” he said.

Students Brandon Gialousis, Chris Mikit and Willie Chapman drew inspiration for their car, which they named “Greased Lightning,” from YouTube sensation, EpicMealTime.

“Their design wasn’t mobile by any means, but I wanted to try to mimic their idea,” Gialousis said.

They took a different approach and included 10 pounds of ground beef and six pounds of bacon in their car.

“It was expensive but it was worth it. It’s a class project and I tried to take it above and beyond,” Gialousis said. “I wanted to make it memorable, so that way people will say, ‘hey, there’s the meat guy.’”

It took the team 10 hours to make the body necessary for the car. They also constructed a backup car, which fell apart on its third trial run.

Gialousis said that if he had more tools, they could have been more successful.

“It didn’t perform the way I expected it to but we had limited tools,” he said. “If I were able to take it home, I would have melted down gummy bears.”

Meyers said the students weren’t limited in items but it was performance based.

Each team had to complete at least two trials and the wheels had to spin and not just slide down.

“It had to travel at least six inches past the bottom of the ramp,” Meyers said. And it could not fall apart on the way down.”

Meyers said students were engaged and excited to work on this project.

Peers also evaluated each other on spirit and creativity during the day. Students were also given the option to treat themselves after the competition and eat their vehicles.

Meyers said because of the success and positive feedback from students, she plans to do it again in the future.

Additional reporting by Marissa McIntyre