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ChemE Car comes in First

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cornell’s ChemE Car student project team traveled to Boston on March 7 and 8 to compete in the Northeast Regionals of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) ChemE Car Competition. The competition, hosted jointly by Northeastern University and MIT, included 15 teams from universities throughout the Northeastern United States.

Cornell’s ChemE Car Team did remarkably well, finishing in first place and in third place in the car competition and also coming in first in the technical poster competition.  The Cornell ChemE Car team has been National Champion three times since 2008. This is the first time a Cornell ChemE Car team has taken top honors in the Poster Competition.

The ChemE Car competition is not a race. Rather, one hour before the competition teams are given a specific distance their car needs to travel as well as a specific weight that needs to be carried. Teams then break out their computers and crunch the numbers to figure out the technical settings for their two allowed runs.

Cornell’s fuel cell-powered car finished 104 centimeters from the target distance, which was close enough for third place. Cornell’s battery-powered car came to a stop a remarkable 46 centimeters from the target distance, which gave it a first place finish. With their strong showing in Boston, the team has qualified for the national finals to be held in Salt Lake City in November.

Team Lead Yechun Fu ’15 ME says that it is not yet clear which of the two Cornell cars will travel to Salt Lake City. “Competition rules say only one car is allowed from each university. This means that early in the fall we will have an internal car-off between our power teams to determine which is the most consistent and best candidate to compete.”

The team has more than 50 members, representing 6 different majors. The team’s Faculty Advisor is Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Professor Roseanna Zia. While not predicting a first place finish in the national finals, Team Lead Fu is excited by Cornell’s chances in November.  “I feel extremely proud of all the members for working together so well and for their amazing dedication to the team. I feel that we are in a good position going into Nationals with multiple power teams ready to take on the challenge of competing against the best teams in the country.”

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