TTU Chem-E-Car team races to second place in national competition

Tennessee Tech University chemical engineering students placed second out of 31 universities in this year’s annual “Chem-E-Car” competition in Austin, Texas.

The competition challenged chemical engineering students to test their classroom knowledge by building shoebox-sized cars powered by controlled chemical reactions. The small cars had to transport a payload a specified distance – and students didn’t learn until 60 minutes before the competition what that payload and distance were.

Pedro E. Arce, TTU’s chemical engineering department chairperson, accompanied the students to the competition.

“This great team has established a new bench mark for the program since they beat prestigious schools such as Purdue, North Carolina State University, and others,” Arce said. “I’m grateful to the outstanding help provided by the faculty and staff in helping the team of students.”

In this year’s event, students were challenged to transport 400 milliliters of water 75 feet. Student teams had two chances to run their cars, with their best attempt at exactly meeting the established distance serving as their final score.

Finishing in second place, the TTU team used a power source of an alkaline fuel cell, and its car traveled a best distance of 72 feet and 3 inches. The team was also recognized as having the “most consistent car” because it placed in the Top Three for both runs. TTU received $1,000 for the second-place finish.

“Being probably the smallest and least known college attending the competition, I don’t think many people gave us much thought,” said Jenny Bollig, member of the E-Car team. “This was the first time Tech has qualified for the national competition, so it was pretty exciting to be part of the team that will make them think about us in the future.”

The University of Tulsa took the top prize of $2,000 by achieving a best distance of 73 feet and 10 inches. Taking third place was the University of South Carolina with a best distance of 71 feet and 4 inches.

Student teams representing 31 universities from around the country gathered to kick-off the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting with their Sixth Annual Chem-E-Car Competition. More than 1,200 students attended the companion AIChE Annual Student Conference.

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