Charlotte STEAM and Harper Corporation of America have challenged students from across North and South Carolina to build a R.A.T. Rod vehicle (hot rod car) with very specific criteria. The term R.A.T. stands for Radically Alternative Thinking, a term that is used to describe the high levels of problem solving and critical thinking that are required to build a R.A.T. Rod. The specific criteria are as follows:

  • Vehicle must be built by students with the guidance of an instructor.
  • Vehicle must be built from parts from at least 10 different vehicles
  • Vehicle cost must stay within a $5000 budget. (funding provided)
  • Options to obtain more funding are available (contact Charlotte STEAM for details).
  • Must use STEAM vs. STEM curriculum.
  • R.A.T. Rod must be operable and safe for the road.
  • The students must video their building process and progress and edit it to make a loop video to be displayed on a flat screen TV in front of their car at Charlotte STEAMFest to show how they built it.

For more information on how your school can participate in the R.A.T. Rod Challenge, please contact us at

Charlotte STEAMFest is in the News! Here is a CN2 News clip on our R.A.T. Rod Challenge:

Rat Rod Exchange Facebook Group

This is a private Facebook group, formed by Charlotte STEAMFest, in order to offer a venue for schools to post ideas, thoughts, and assistance, as well as offer parts or tools to help other schools succeed in building their Rat Rod for our Rat Rod Challenge program. This facebook group will only be open to schools that are enrolled in our Rat Rod Challenge program.