For Immediate Release
May 4, 2011 Contacts: Lee Tune, 301 405 4679 or firstname.lastname@example.org
UMD students Win Regional Chem Engineering Model Car Competition, Head to Finals
By: Arlette Philogene
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland student team, Thirsty Turtles, claimed glory at a recent regional Chem-E-Car Competition and qualified for the national competition in Minneapolis in October. At Penn State, the team competed against 15 others from the Mid-Atlantic region. Raphael, the winning UMD model car, was constructed by nine undergraduate engineering students.
Each team was tasked with designing and constructing a small, chemically powered model vehicle that could be dismantled and fit into a medium sized box with the ability to carry 350 ml of water. The competition required team cars to reach a distance of 60 feet. The Maryland team won first place with a score of 60 feet and 11 inches.
Students and faculty were surprised at their win since it was Team Thirsty Turtles' first time competing. "Our Chem-E-Car team went up against much more experienced teams from very strong [top] engineering programs, and it competed with amazing success. I'm very proud," said Sheryl Ehrman, chemical and biomolecular engineering professor and chair.
The competition was judged on a combined score, for traveling the correct distance, and for creativity. "I was proud of us for being more original than many of the other teams. When we got there we were looking around and it seemed like a lot of other teams bought commercial, off the shelf stuff for their cars. All of our stuff was completely custom--the battery, the circuitry, and the structure," said Weston "Battery Guy" Breda, a junior chemical and biomolecular engineering major.
Team Thirsty Turtles Bob Latimer (Blue Shirt, Back Row),
Kevin Bates (Red shirt, Front Row),
Lucas Hedinger (Blue Shirt),
Adam Gradzki (Gray Shirt),
Wes Breda (Red Polo) and
Sandhya Patel (Green Shirt).
The students said they spent a lot of time on the project and were full of excitement to see their accomplishment. "Seeing six months of hard work and dedication pay off as our car stopped inches away from the finish line was a moment I will never forget," said Sandhya Patel, a junior chemical and biomolecular engineering major. "We are very excited to have come out with first place our first time ever competing. Nationals, here we come!"
Team Thirsty Turtles is currently preparing for the national competition on October 16 in Minneapolis were it plans to compete with more than 30 teams. The competition is sponsored by the the American Institute for Chemical Engineers and will be part of the AIChE's national meeting.