I had the opportunity to catch up with just a few of the ChemE Car teams during their poster sessions and asked them what was the most enjoyable part of the project and competition for them. Following are a few of the responses:
Cornell University (First Place)
The Team from Cornell University was glad that they started calibration early, which allowed them to work out a lot of issues and get the car to run and run straight early on in the process. They enjoyed working together with a multidisciplinary team, including mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, which, even though people may have had very specific tasks, all came together in the end and made one last push in the last few weeks leading up to the Competition.
University of Texas at Austin
The Team from University of Texas at Austin loved having a small team, which gave members leadership experience and the ability to see their design grow at all points in the planning and development process. This is the first time in 10 years that UT Austin has had a ChemE Car, so to see this all come together from start to finish was a very fulfilling experience for the whole team - the first time the car moved during the testing phase was a really exciting moment! Having a project like this that is related to the major and encourages creativity, teamwork, and outside research is a great opportunity. They are starting this year with a hydrogen fuel cell and iodine clock reaction and look forward to innovating further in the years to come.
University of Utah
The Team from the University of Utah found the experience of overcoming continuing challenges to be very rewarding. In fact, just a week ago their fuel cell died and the new one showed up the day before the competition. The team always for a way to pull it together and figure out solutions to issues that would pop up. The ability to find ways to move forward in the face of so many challenges will help them in industry. It is rewarding to see the sum of all their hard work and hallway tests compete on the national level in the convention center.
The Bucknell University team really enjoyed the brainstorming phase of the project. They began with some really off-the-wall and outrageous ideas but built off of those to get to the finished product that they have now. For example, last year they had a stopping mechanism that used bovine liver. The collaboration was very rewarding - it was great to work together to do the research and solve problems along the way.
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (Second Place)
The team from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez felt that the building of the car and the problem-solving that went along with it were very rewarding. This team has been very successful this year and in past years - they know they have a good car, but they want an even better car. Each year they challenge themselves to innovate and push their team to new levels. The diversity in the group as well as the communication and idea-sharing contribute to their ability to innovate. The group is like a big family and they attribute their success with their car chemistry to their group team chemistry.