Students put artistic and mechanical skills to the test to race handmade vehicles at New College of Florida

Students at New College of Florida gathered on Monday to put some unique, handmade vehicles they had built, to the ultimate test.

They raced them in a competition on campus, nicknamed the "Parking Lot Regatta."

Assistant Professor of Art Ryan Buyssens had students in his sculpture class combine their art and mechanical skills to create vessels out of old bike parts, metal scraps, and furniture pieces.

"I thought this would be a good sculpture project to teach them metal working and welding skills, and to just have a lot of fun," Buyssens said.

The students had to follow specific rules for their vehicles, as well as time and budget restraints.

“Creative problem solving is the key," Buyssens explained. "The vehicles had to have three or more wheels. They had to be human or nuclear powered. They also had to have a theme or some sort of visual or audible aesthetic, not just pure function."

The New College Students used ideas from pop culture movies like "Mad Max" and "Monsters Inc." to decorate their machines. In addition to having a fun afternoon, the students also demonstrated many new skills.

“Not only did they have to learn welding and metalworking skills, they also had to learn mechanical skills, and understand a mechanism," Buyssens said. "They had to learn a little about ergonomics, how their body fits in with this machine."