Ali Ibrahim, a 24-year-old working on his bachelor’s in electrical engineering, was crowned King Ali when he became the champion of the Death Races on Friday Sept. 19.
Death Race developed over the summer through the Boise State Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Micromouse club. In the competition, students race Bluetooth cars around the second floor atrium of the Micron Engineering Center, while controlling their cars via Android connected devices.
The contestants drive laps around the atrium, trying to maneuver around turns without falling to the lower floor. The atrium has a gated railing that is just high enough from the ground to allow the cars to slide beneath it and plummet to the ground.
About 50 people showed up to the race cheering and gasping as cars fell from the atrium resulting in ghastly deaths for the cars.
Ibrahim was able to take on the name of champion as he knocked out his last opponent late in the second lap. Of the five cars participating, only two survived the race.
Nick Terrell, a 27-year-old senior working toward a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, came up with the idea of the races while he and his friends were involved in the Micromouse club, a robotic engineering group.
Terrell thought it would be fun to see who is the best driver of the robots. He decided to increase the stakes and fun by moving the race to the atrium. The first attempt at the races involved a small group including Vikram Patel, 25-year-old working towards a doctorate in electrical engineering.
They had so much fun Terrell and Patel then brought the idea of racing stock cars up to IEEE who were fully on board, and so the Death Races began.
Each contestant must purchase a Bluetooth connected car. The cars can be bought from SparkFun.com. The standard model cars cost $25 each.
Patel said the cars are “affordable enough to buy, but expensive enough to not want to lose it in the race.”
The contestants can then upgrade the wheels on the car, enhance the speed and other dynamics of the car in order to gain the advantage.
Patel encouraged other students from all engineering disciplines to get involved because of the learning experience.
“You learn things in clubs like Micromouse or this event that you would never learn in a lab environment or classroom environment,” Patel said.
Patel also said the competitive nature of the race encourages participants to come up with innovative ways to gain the advantage over the other drivers, thus teaching them good engineering skills not found in standard academic settings. Anyone can get involved, so long as you are a member of IEEE.
The next Death Race will be held on Oct. 12. The Race is tentatively scheduled to begin at noon. Everyone is invited to attend and watch as cars race to the death.