Schultheisz and Reeder win second place in Freescale Cup

Rebekka Coakley
May 26, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – While most seniors spend their last weekend before graduation celebrating the completion of four years of hard work, studying for finals or both, electrical engineering students Karl Schultheisz and Corbin Reeder spent theirs in Rochester, New York, competing in a national match. After a semester building and programming a model car, they were ready to race it in the Freescale Cup.

A collaborative competition for engineering students, the Freescale Cup challenges contestants to build and program a prototype car from a provided kit, to race around a track. The fastest car without derailing, wins.

Schultheisz and Reeder took second place.

“Our practice runs went well.  We got some attention from teams who wanted to make improvements to their cars, and I was happy to clarify concepts,” said Schultheisz, of Boyertown, Pennsylvania. “My favorite part of the weekend was chatting with other teams about their designs and exchanging ideas.”

The work the two did as a team, and their participation in the contest in Rochester, counted as their senior design project, a semester-long enterprise required of all graduating College of Engineering students.

“The Freescale Cup gave me a lot of freedom to make construction decisions that are not usually open to students,” said Schultheisz. “I learned some principles of software design online and the Freescale Cup was a good place to try them out.”

Schultheisz said he and Reeder spent four months creating their prototype for the race.

And it wasn’t easy.

“The code was constantly being changed; initially in drastic ways, but later only small tweaks. We encountered two big problems. First, our software design suffered from premature abstraction -- we were too eager on the main structural parts and had to knock them down later. Second, it wasn’t until late in the semester that we were able to practice on a track that was similar to the one on which our car would be competing,” he said. “Our first track was very slippery, which prevented us from testing the car at high speeds.”

Overall Schultheisz said he really enjoyed the whole process. The two valued the opportunity to use their troubleshooting and critical thinking skills to make improvements to the car and appreciated the fact that they could take ownership of their own design and test their ideas and skills.

Most of the team’s work was using C programming, a general-purpose computer system programming language, to control the car. Schultheisz said most of that was self-taught but he credited their adviser, Tim Kane, an electrical engineering professor, with recognizing their skill set and giving them the freedom to work on the project, while offering valuable feedback.

“They did a great job working together as a team, and brought in complementary skills from previous courses and experiences,” said Kane, who accompanied the two on the trip.

Additionally, Schultheisz was excited to compete in the event because he was able to network and make connections with some professional engineers he personally admires.

Freescale Semiconductor, a global company in embedded processing solutions that provides advanced products in the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets, has been sponsoring the event since 2003. Competitions are held in South Korea, China, Malaysia, India, North and South America and Europe.

Last Updated May 27, 2015