The Utah Valley University recently held a competition in which students designed "pinewood derby" style race cars - and then printed them out for actual racing. This derby began in 2008, when Professor David Manning of their Engineering Graphics & Design Technology department managed to convince the budgeteers to acquire a Dimension 3D printer.
Almost 200 students from across Utah come together for the 2010 competition, which involves design and actual racing:
The competition is designed to test students’ ability to conceptualize a model car design; produce a virtual 3D model using constraint-based modeling software; configure each design to accommodate standard parts, meet size, weight and track dimension specifications; manufacture a car using the Dimension 3D Printer and then race it against others. Points are awarded for marketing illustrations, detail drawings, appearance, features and speed. Winners are awarded prizes based on performance.
We think this is an incredible way to solidify the meaning of design in the minds of students: Design doesn't mean much unless it becomes real, either in 2D or 3D, and achieves the purpose you intended.
Oh, you're wondering what prize was awarded to the winners? Trophies, of course. Printed on the Dimension 3D printer!
(Hat tip to Jessica)