CTech & STEM101 Debut Air Drag Challenge

CTech Manufacturing > CTech & STEM101 Debut Air Drag Challenge

Sun Prarie, WI – March 5, 2021: CTech and local STEM curriculum provider STEM101 have teamed up to develop the next-generation C02 Car Challenge. The answer; small 3D printed racecars propelled via basic compressed air.

See the air drag challenge in action!

Called the Air Drag Challenge, this new middle/high school level project challenges students to design, 3D print, and assemble their own small racecars. Students then line up their creations on a string-guided raceway, and are launched down the track via a special compressed air-powered “Launch Box”.

The Launch Box itself is manufactured by CTech, using the same processes and materials used on our industry-leading storage solutions. Everything educators need to implement this project; from hardware, to curriculum and support, is distributed conveniently by STEM101.

A Company Built On Drag Racing

So, how does an aluminum storage manufacturer get involved with a STEM program like the Air Drag Challenge? The story begins over 25 years ago when CTech Manufacturing was founded by NHRA drag racer; Jim Greenheck. He realized that trailer cabinets and toolboxes could be manufactured tougher, lighter, and more user-friendly. The rest is history, CTech has grown to serve many industries beyond motorsports. However, racing remains a critical part of CTech’s company culture.


Besides serving shop/laboratory storage solutions to many customers in the education market, CTech is involved in a wide range of hands-on outreach and education activities thanks to the James D. Greenheck Foundation. In recent years CTech has become increasingly involved in supporting competitive STEM-based teams in various domains such as robotics, SAE, and others.

A History Of C02-Powered Excitement

Some may remember carving their own C02-powered racecars out of balsa wood in middle or high school shop class. Then, after a coat of paint, C02 cartridges were inserted into the back, and cars were raced down the hallway. For many, this is a red-letter school project. A rare project that students cannot wait to take part in.

Traditional C02 dragster next to a modern 3d printed air dragster.

Air Drag Challenge takes all of the excitement from older C02 vehicle challenges, and injects modern manufacturing elements as well as STEM-oriented skills. This makes the Air Drag Challenge more relevant in today’s manufacturing climate, and better prepares students for pursuit of STEM-related fields.

A Changing STEM Landscape

3D printing has recently exploded into a valuable tool for ‘makers’ and ‘doers’ in the STEM realm. More importantly, 3D printing has carved out a niche in the education market as an affordable tool to teach basic automation, manufacturing, and other hands-on practices.

For the Air Drag Challenge, students carry out their vehicle design work on the computer using optional templates provided by STEM101. Varying levels of complexity and independence make designing and printing the vehicles highly adaptable to various skill levels and situations.

An Emphasis on Accessibility

So you want to take on the Air Drag Challenge? STEM101 has made it extremely easy to get started. Educators interested in the project should contact STEM101 or CTech Manufacturing to gain access to the project’s online portal, where you can:

  1. Gain a behind the scenes look at what we do at CTech Manufacturing.
  2. Virtually meet CTech employees and hear their stories.
  3. View free introductory education materials.
  4. View and order project packages for classroom use.

The Launch box and all required materials will be delivered in a neatly organized storage bin, which also doubles as a finish line. Model templates and other digital materials are provided at no extra charge on STEM101’s Air Drag Challenge portal.

With the rise of at-home learning, budget cuts, and other obstacles in the way, hands-on learning is easily swept under the rug. Investment and/or access to a 3D printer can be difficult. However, CTech and STEM101 have compiled resources to help students and educators pursue the Air Drag Challenge in some form. Please reach out to STEM101 for any questions or concerns regarding curriculum or project application.

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Max Kittleson

Longtime SCCA member and road racer. Content developer. Knowledge gatherer. Proponent of good storage! I was born and raised around the storage industry thanks to my father; David, who started Closet Concepts LLC with his brother in the late-'80's.

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