Skip to content

Scouts Get Derby Tips From MSU Engineers

Educational Collaboration Affects Future Success

To promote an interest in STEM-related classes and engineering, Cub Scouts and Scouters received professional insight into the science behind Pinewood Derby car construction during Mountain Valley District’s recent derby kick-off at the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, Montana State University.

Organized by Dr. Stephan Warnat, Associate Professor at MSU’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, and his graduate students, the workshop aimed to provide valuable tips that could help the Scouts design and build a faster car.

After a slideshow on the history of the Pinewood Derby, the 45 Scouts and 20 adults in attendance split into small groups where they learned fundamental engineering skills and techniques from Dr. Warnat’s team.

The stations included hands-on experience in technical drawings, polishing techniques to reduce axle friction, approaches to optimize weight distribution, and how to minimize energy loss.

MSU’s Motor Sports Club and engineers from the machine shop organized two special events for the Cubs and their parents. They demonstrated how MSU engineering students machine life-size cars they compete with nationwide. Cubs got to sit in the car and imagine being a race car driver.

Additionally, Scouts learned how advanced computer numerically controlled (CNC) manufacturing tools can machine a Pinewood Derby car in 20 minutes. Matthew Culp, a master’s student and Eagle Scout, highlighted that this type of manufacturing is probably not allowed in all Cub Scout Packs.

The event showcases how fruitful educational collaboration positively affects the current and future success of the young people in our community. Dr. Warnat expressed his hope that Scouts would take the tips they learned and use them to build their cars for an enjoyable Pinewood Derby race with their packs.


Quick Links

Generic filters