Who says toy cars are for kids? Add strict guidelines, alternative fuels and global competition, and you have a perfect opportunity for university students to test their skills. A team of U students proved the point when they won first place and $2,000 at the national Chem-E-Car competition hosted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in Atlanta in fall 2014. “The win speaks volumes about the Chemical Engineering Department at the U, how strong we are, and about the entire College of Engineering,” said Victor Crane, the team leader and a chemical engineering student. Teams could pick any type of fuel, but the U team chose hydrogen because of its reliability. Building the Chem-E-Car, dubbed “Helena Handbasket,” required 500 man-hours, Crane estimated. Beyond refining the chemical processes that start and stop the car, they also fabricated a fiberglass body and devised a custom drivetrain. “The experience gave me a chance to learn more than the pencil and paper that are part of the curriculum,” Crane said.
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