About us

A window into the mind of CSP

Our Vision

To use the right kind of crazy to encourage our local high school students, and eventually other high school students across SC, to think outside of the box. We want to challenge students and push their creativity, prior knowledge and their crititcal thinking skills to a completely new level. Using STEAM ideals, they will design and build a fully functional vehicle created from a collection of miscellanious parts.

Our Culture

We want to have all types of students and business partners involved in this project. We want to encourage all to not only have fun but to learn and excell in their learning. The RAT ROD project is a voluntary endeavor so they must come in with a great attitude and desire to learn.

Our Community

Our goal is to work within the surrounding community and region to help support this venture. Allowing our business partners to see what our students are doing will help provide better future opportunities for both the students and the business partners.

STEAM Initiative: Explain, Expose and Educate

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Education is important to out workforce, but also to our students. Through STEAM education, we are preparing our students for what lies ahead. Whether it's on the job, in college or in the Military, core STEAM principles are everywhere. Preparing our students for the future is not only a good idea but also key to the sucess of industry.

CSP is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

Carolina Steam Punks is a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit organization. What is a 501c3, the Foundation Group identifies it as this:

Section 501(c)(3) is the portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations. It is regulated and administered by the US Department of Treasury through the Internal Revenue Service.

Shows & Events


  • **Pictures Coming Soon** Imagine STEAM Festival October 27, 2018 Rock Hill, SC

Upcoming Events

  • Charlotte AutoFair - Spring April 4-7, 2019 Concord, NC Link

SEMA 2018

  • **Pictures Coming Soon** October 30 - November 2, 2018 LasVegas, NV


Check out all the schools participating in the RAT ROD Challenge

Allendale-Fairfax High School

Andrew Jackson High School

Applied Technology Center

Heyward Career & Technology Center

Swofford Career Center

Your School

Your School

What is the R.A.T. Rod Challenge?

Want to learn more about the challenge? Click the links below.


A Rat Rod is a newly developed name for the original hot rod style of the early 1950’s. A Rat Rod is usually a vehicle that has had many of the non-critical parts removed. They are usually finished in primer or paints that are often period correct. They are very often a conglomeration of parts and pieces of different makes, models and after-market parts. The term “Rat Rod” was first used by the high dollar, show cars guys to describe the low-buck, home built drivers. You can call them HOT RODS, TRADITIONAL RODS, STREETRODS, or RAT RODS they are here to stay and they are making a showing at auto related events across the country. These cars are a form or art and expression of their owners and builders.

Over the last ten to twelve years Rat Rods have become more and more accepted at Car Shows and in the custom car culture in general, with many car shows either including sections for Rat Rods, or beginning events directly devoted to them and aimed at wider audiences than ever before

Recently, the term “rat rod” has been used to describe almost any vehicle that appears unfinished or is built simply to be driven. Chopped tops, shaved trim, grills, tail lights, and other miscellaneous body parts continue to be swapped between makes and models.

The traditional Rat Rods. These are cars built the way rods were built in the ’30s, ’40s, and early ’50s, with a primary emphasis on low-buck and home-built, using period-correct components ranging from flathead to nailhead engines, wide whitewall tires to skinny blackwall bias-plies, and black primer to hand-rubbed paint.

The more modern Rat Rods. They’re artistic, fun, and sensational reinterpretations of late-’40s/early-’50s hot rodding as a culture that includes music, clothing, hairstyles, and tattoos. The cars are low, loud, chopped…with giant rear tires, lots of carburetors, open pipes, and tall gearshifts.

*Taken from the Maggie Valley Rally's website
Click Link to read more

What is a R.A.T.

The term R.A.T. stands for Radically Alternative Thinking, a term that is used to describe the high levels of “outside of the box” thinking, problem solving and critical thinking that are required to build a Rat Rod.

For example, figuring out how use a Ford transmission with a Chrysler engine and a Chevrolet rear axle and what is necessary to design and fabricate to make all that work together and function correctly.


The Challenge

For a team of high school students to build a traditionally styled Rat Rod/Hot Rod, with the use of STEAM ideals and design, using parts from a minimum of 10 different vehicles of varying manufacturers and classifications. Rod is to be safe and able to pass a DOT inspection for home built vehicle class. The finished Rod is to only resemble the original starting vehicle and not to look like the complete original vehicle with a few other parts bolted to it.

For example if a 33 Ford business coupe is the base vehicle for the Rod build, finished Rod should not look like a traditional 33 Ford coupe with misc. parts bolted or glued to it. Body/cab should be from one vehicle, frame from another, engine from a completely different vehicle, and so on.


RAT Rod Challenge Guideline

  • Rod must be built in the traditional Rat Rod/Hot Rod styling.
  • Rod must be SAFE and road worthy, able to pass a DOT inspection.
  • Rod must be 80%+ built by the students with only minimal instructor hands-on. Instructors are meant to be facilitators and offer guidance when necessary.
  • Rod must be built from parts from a minimum of 10 different vehicles (documented) of varying manufacturers and classifications, with the final Rod only resembling the original starting vehicle.
  • Rod is to be built with in the $5000 budget provided. Under specific criteria, additional funding may be obtained. Ie; news articles, magazine articles, etc…
  • Community involvement and donations are encouraged

Rod must be designed and built using STEAM ideals

  • Rod construction must be video and photo documented, to be provided to Carolina STEAM Punks periodically so they can be posted to the web and social media. A looped video should be done by each team to be displayed at the end of year “Big Show”.
  • Video/Photo release forms must be filled out for each team member and provided to Carolina STEAM Punks.
  • Rod must be displayed at the end of year “Big Show”, location still to be determined.
  • Cross curricular design and construction is highly encouraged and expected.
  • Website/Blog documenting the build process strongly encouraged



Our goal for this Challenge it to offer students an authentic and engaging experience, using STEAM ideals, in an environment designed to teach needed hard skills, soft skills and to foster higher level critical thinking skills, knowledge and motivation to be successful in our changing world. To show students that in spite of their background and previous knowledge, or lack thereof, they can accomplish any task set before them using “outside the box” thinking and perseverance.

This challenge will leave them with not only many new skills but also a tangible product that can be seen, touched, referenced and even driven, as well as greater self-confidence, pride in their work and the memories of the process and outcome.

Building minds, Building Cars

This is more than just building a car, it's teaching students how to think critically through building a car. If you would like to know more, please send us your info below to receive updates from Carolina Steam Punks


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News & Updates

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