PITTSBURGH (Dec. 4, 2019) —The small, box-shaped car was
well-designed: the team of undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh’s
Swanson School of Engineering who built it took into consideration the weight
of the car, the fuel needed to propel it, and the traction the tires would need
to send the car sailing to the finish line.
They had prepared for everything—except for carpeting.
The Chem-E-Car Competition at the AIChE Annual Meeting requires
student teams to create a small car with chemical propulsion and stopping
mechanisms such that it will travel a specified distance and carry a payload
(0-500 ml of water). Prior to the competition, all teams had to complete safety
training and testing, and submit an engineering documentation package. Teams
also had to provide a poster detailing the research they conducted for the
creation of their car and pass the safety inspection.
Students from the Swanson School qualified
to compete in the annual Chem-E-Car Competition at the AIChE Annual Meeting
in Orlando, Fla., which took place Nov. 10-15, 2019. In the first round,
however, Pitt’s team tied for last with almost half of the competitors: no one
had prepared to race on raw board over a carpeted floor instead of the hard
floor they had expected.
“A lot of the teams had trouble getting the right traction
and torque to get the car moving down the track,” says Taryn Bayles, PhD, vice
chair for education and professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. “Our
team spent the hour after their first run re-engineering their car and
re-qualifying the car with their new design. I am really proud of their ability
to engineer a new solution between runs—a true demonstration of their
After their redesign, the Pitt team finished 12th
overall in the competition, and won the Chem-E-Car Poster Competition. The team members included
Grace Watson, Charlie Robinson, Jean Fiore, Kristy Sturgess, Simon Cao, Mor
Shimshi, Michael Bosley and Nicholas Hages. They were sponsored by
Lubrizol, BASF and ExxonMobil.
In addition to the Chem-E-Car competition, two other Pitt
undergraduates, Dean Miller and Jeff Hoffmann, won awards for their research
poster presentations in the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division (CRE). Miller’s
presentation depicted his work in the McKone
Lab with redox
flow batteries, while Hoffmann’s described his work on water
electrocatalysis, also in the McKone Lab.
Maggie Pavlick, 12/4/2019
Contact: Maggie Pavlick