Engineering Hot Wheelz

An all-female group of engineering students from New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology set out to design and build a hybrid racecar. The result of their efforts is an 82 horsepower, 700-pound electric hybrid racecar named “Hot Wheelz”. Now the women are putting their work to the test as Hot Wheelz hits the track for its first-ever international competition.


An all-female group of engineering students from New York's Rochester Institute of Technology set out to design and build a hybrid race car.

The result of their efforts is an 82-horsepower, 700-pound electric hybrid race car named Hot Wheelz.

Now the women are putting their hard work to the test as Hot Wheelz hits the track for its first ever international competition.

Take a look.

This car is unlike most others on the roads.

It has four open wheels, not like a passenger car, where it's all enclosed.

It has two roll bars to keep the driver safe in a rollover impact.

And it has to powered by an electric motor with high-power lithium-ion batteries.

The electric car is called Hot Wheelz.

It's the end result of a two-year project built by an all-female group of engineering students at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

We have to do all the frame design, the parts design, all ourselves.

The positive is always on the right.

It's one of those rare moments when the job requires no experience.

The students are a mix of different backgrounds and majors, who have formed a team out of interest and curiosity to see whether all the research could pay off.

We set out to do a two-year design-and-build phase.

The actual design started in January of '15, and we went and designed all the way through about December, and then we really started to build heavily in January of '16.

With their eyes set on a major competition, the women put the finishing touches on Hot Wheelz in early May.

Yeah, Maura. You got this.

Next, they were off to the races at the New Hampshire International Speedway.

[ Cheering ]

The tilt test is one safety check that ensures no leaking from the vehicle.

30 teams from across the globe put their creativity to the test at the Formula Hybrid, a design and engineering challenge for college students.

Hot Wheelz passed an initial mechanical inspection with flying colors.

But later, a close call would put the women in jeopardy of hitting the track.

I slammed on the brakes, and it was just way too much force in the front, and it actually turned -- the bottom and the front suspension twisted over each other, so it completely just ripped apart one of our wheel assemblies.

She was in the car.

I was out of the car, so I had a different perspective, I just saw everything crinkle.

And I was just like, 'Oh, no.'

Time was of the essence, so the women quickly put their thinking caps on.

The mistake cost them a few rounds of the competition.

Then finally, the electric car remained powered up for nearly 12 miles.

We came together as a team in the rest of that day to really pull together and show that we might have had a failure, but we are a team to be reckoned with, and we are going to get back out there, and we are not done, and we are here to compete.


Hot Wheelz brightly colored technical design won the team third place, and they finished third in the overall competition.

But the women say it was a different prize that made this all worthwhile.

We actually walked away with two professionalism and like management awards.

When things got rough, the team found a unique way to lighten the mood.

We dance. [ Laughs ] So I think they'd never really seen that type of an atmosphere before, where everyone just gets around the car and starts doing the wobble.

But that's how we build morale.

And there is no doubt the hands-on experience created bonds and friendships they will take with them down whatever road they travel.

We have seen so many girls, even young first- and second-years transform just in this past semester, their level of confidence and understanding of things just because of this team.