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By Sam Alcorn
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University students will compete in the national Chem-E Car Competition in November.
They had received an automatic bid to compete in Nashville, Tenn., after taking first place in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chem-E Car Competition in April. They'll be going up against more than 30 regional champions from across the United States and Puerto Rico.
The idea behind the contest is for each team to design and construct a chemically powered vehicle within certain size constraints. The vehicle must be designed to carry a specified cargo.
At the time of the competition, the teams will be told the distance that the car must travel and the specified cargo that the vehicle will carry. The winner will be determined by a combined score for traveling the correct distance and for creativity.
And that's where the student teams get the opportunity to exhibit their engineering and chemical prowess. Success requires on-the-fly precision calculations.
Last time out in competition, the Bucknell team used a proton exchange membrane fuel cell to power their four-wheel engineering marvel. Their car came within 24 inches of the finish line, beating out 16 other universities for a first-place finish and an invite to Nashville, where the American Institute of Chemical Engineers is holding its annual meeting.
Team captain and chemical engineering major Eric Dybeck, Class of '11, said the seven-member team has been meeting weekly to discuss progress and divide work tasks. "In between meetings, we also conducted individual work on the car," said Dybeck.
Part of that work has included modifications to the Bucknell vehicle. "We wanted to provide more power and more speed," said Dybeck.
The other team members are Drew Bundschuh '11, Drew Hackman '11, Jungyun Lin '12, Ashley Magurany '11, Brian Priolo '11 and Brian Smith '10, all chemical engineering majors.
In the national competition sponsored by Chevron, first, second and third prizes will be $2,000, $1,000 and $500, respectively.
Sixth place in 2008
In 2008, Bucknell's team took sixth place in the national competition held in Philadelphia. The top finishers were Cornell University, Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University-College Station.
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