Rubber bands, wheels, dedication and seven student teams.  Put them all together and you have the beginning stages of The Element E (elastic) Challenge.

The Element E  Challenge is a 13 week program at the Art Center College of Design. The program was originally only for Art Center graduate students, but PCC was invited to be a part of the program this year for the first time.  Seven teams are participating this year with one student from PCC on each team, except for one team that has two PCC students.

Student teams design remote controlled race vehicles which are powered by 16 feet of industrial rubber bands, according to the Art Center.  The classes are part of the Graduate Industrial Design program which was started in 2006. Other materials used for the cars are based on which race the team is working towards winning.  Three races are held on the last day of the challenge. They include figure-eight course, a drag race and a hill climb.  

PCC Product Design Instructor Stan Kong said the teams work with outside charity organizations to promote teamwork and partnerships and they also have to create a promotional video to be put on YouTube.  A video from 2009 by Koo Ho Shin and Uri Tzarnotzkyeo can be seen at:

The races take place at the Art Center on the Aug. 11 and are open to the public.  They will be held on the Hillside Lawn at about 3 p.m.

According to the Art Center, they are judged a panel of industrial and automotive designers and professionals.  Winners are given trophies for the races and there is also an award for best concept.

Each team has an Art Center graduate student who mentors the industrial design student from PCC.

 “I was concerned how the younger students would do working with the older graduate students,” said Kong, also adjunct faculty at Art Center.

It is Kong’s first time teaching the class but his worry was put to rest when he saw the students together.  “They are very dedicated,” he said.

Excited by the program, he added, “It provides an access to facilities and a higher level of curriculum for the PCC students.”

Kong is proud of the students in the program and it shows by the smile on his face when he talks about them.  

He laughs and says, “These students make me look like a great teacher.”

PCC design student Lauren Takayama, left, works on her vehicle design project with Alexey Shcherbakov. ()

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