Dash for Trash


Students at the University of California San Diego have been collecting junk for the past few weeks and pooled it for the big UCSD Junkyard Derby Mad Dash for Trash Wednesday.

Engineering students will use the junk to build cars and then race the cars down the steepest hill on campus.

The race is part of the university’s annual Sun God Festival Friday.

Inspired by a television show “Junkyard Wars,” students came up with the idea a few years ago to show there's a fun side to engineering.

Vehicle specs:
Built with any trash found in the junk dash
No more than four feet wide.
No longer than eight feet wide.
Completely gravity-driven.
No more than $50 on decorative materials
Built in 1.5 days

In a memorable crash of 2009, a woman hit a hay bale and went flying into the air prompting a new height restriction to keep the center of gravity low.

After that, there’s no limit to a team’s creativity.

“We've seen couches go down. We've seen washing machines,” said Sara Richardson with the UCSD Engineering Council.

Bryan Ransin and his team were weighing their options as they looked at the one giant wheel, the bicycle wheels, the baby stroller and the bathtub they had collected in the dash.

Another team managed to snag a toilet. No word on whether that would be a part of the final design.

The themes are the most fun part of the derby, according to Richardson.

“Every year there’s some sort of Speed Racer from Star Wars. There was a Batmobile one year,” she said.

Because there are so many departments involved, there are different types of engineering students taking part.  The person who is drawing plans for your home or possibly designing the next drug you will take when your sick could be a Derby alum, Richardson said. 

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