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Engineering a Souped-up Barbie Jeep

23 January 2018

According to the Georgia Tech News Center, custom motorized transport is common at the university. But two engineering students who recently souped up a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep brought that trend to a new level.

“We like the idea of taking children’s toys and upgrading them with a more powerful means of propulsion,” said Dustin Sloan, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student.

Sloan and third-year aerospace engineering student Trenton Charlson created a “chainsaw trike” in April 2017, and their video documenting the process of affixing a chainsaw motor to a tricycle has gotten close to a million hits on YouTube. Expressing a desire to go from trike to go-kart, Sloan says that the Barbie Jeep seemed to be “the next logical step.”

Although neither student has an auto mechanics background, they are both members of the RoboJackets, a competitive robotics group at the school. They designed their version of the jeep in the RoboJackets shop space.

“Being around a bunch of people who are passionate about technology and engineering at Tech really fosters learning and spawns projects like the jeep,” said Charlson.

Apparently the biggest challenge was fitting everything inside the plastic casing of the jeep, which was designed for kids ages 3 and up. They equipped the vehicle with a full-sized engine and steel frame as well as mechanical components for steering, a gas pedal and hydraulic brakes.

Top speed: 30 miles per hour. That may not sound too fast, but it’s all relative. On a Barbie Jeep, that’s flying. “It’s very touchy on the gas, braking and steering, but gives a good deal of control,” said Sloan. “You can even drift in it and power slide.”

Next up for the duo: developing a pulsejet engine.

“We’ve got to figure out what we want to put it on,” Sloan said. “We have an idea.”

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