Carnegie Mellon’s Spring Carnival and Buggy Races

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on April 25, 2019.

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Carnegie Mellon University's Spring Carnival is a tradition that dates back more than a century and is a three-day event that takes place each April.  

Sometimes it is hard to say no to traditions, and CMU knows how to really honor theirs!

If you are planning a visit to this one, the following is what you can expect.

Spring Carnival at Carnegie Mellon

CMU Carnival

At its core, the Spring Carnival at Carnegie Mellon University is one big party. There are many scheduled events, reunion weekend activities, and, true to its name, a carnival.

The carnival aspect of the event is much like you would see elsewhere. There are the rides, live music, and traditional food vendors (plus an array of Pittsburgh food trucks thrown in for good measure). If you've ever been to carnival before, you know what to expect without a moment's hesitation.

But the events are what make this one unique, as there is a ton of CMU flair thrown in like the Mobot (mobile robot) races, mobile booths built by students to an annual theme, and the buggy races.

In fact, the buggy races are what makes this event worth attending on their own, and were the real highlight of our Carnival experience!

CMU Buggy Races are a Must See

Buggy Races at Carnegie Mellon

What is a buggy race, you may ask?

Well, 100 years ago when buggy races first started they were what you are likely picturing in your head right now. Teams would develop their carts / racers to complete a circuit in Schenley Park as fast as possible. But there is a catch- it is all man-powered.

The buggies themselves are designed for a pusher to assist with a portion of the track that goes uphill, and a driver to manage them around fast downhill portions. There are no motors on this one!

CMU Buggy Race

Over the years, CMU engineers transformed the buggy races from traditional carts to aerodynamic beasts that are quite small and reach speeds of up to 35 mph- and still have a driver inside!

The concept is still the same and is a really interesting race that combines engineering with sportsmanship- a perfect Carnegie Mellon event if there ever was one. (There is even an autonomous heat now that only has a pusher!)

The races go on throughout Carnival, but we recommend visiting on Saturday morning for the finals to see the best of the best race. Check out different positions along Frew Street during the heats to see the different parts of the event as well, such as the finish line at Frew and Tech, and the takeover from the downhill run to the uphill pushers at the corner of Schenley and Frew!

While Carnegie Mellon's Spring Carnival is a traditional carnival and reunion weekend first and foremost, this one does have some rather unique events that make it worthwhile even for those who are not alumni.

But, whatever you do, you really need to check out the buggy races!

CMU's Carnival takes place for three days in early April each year.

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