By Zach Taylor, University Relations Student Writer

For the second consecutive year, a group of UTC Engineering students achieved national recognition for their performance at the 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Chem-E Car Competition held in San Francisco on November 3rd.

More than 100 universities competed at the regional level. Of the 32 teams who reached the national competition, UTC finished ahead of prestigious institutions such as Ohio State, California-Berkley, Michigan, and Virginia Tech.

The competition required teams to construct cars that can run on alternative fuels, and, on the day of the competition, were told how much weight their car must carry and how far it must travel.

The UTC team’s car, named Scrappy, was about the size of a shoebox and powered by a hydrogen-air fuel cell. This year, the cars had to carry 250 milliliters of water for 17.5 meters.

“I’m very proud of the students. This is their second year at the national competition and only their third year to compete regionally in this highly competitive competition. They have done a terrific job of distributing the leadership roles among each other.  I’m a very hands-off advisor; they do all the work and they’ve done a great job of representing the University,” said Assistant Professor of Civil and Chemical Engineering and team advisor, Dr. Tricia Thomas.

Despite the national ranking, the most notable aspect of the team’s finish for Dr. Bryan J. Ennis, Associate Professor of Civil and Chemical Engineering and team advisor, was the students’ perseverance and determination.

“What I found most impressive was the Scrappy team’s tenacity. Two days before leaving for San Francisco, the team unexpectedly learned they had failed their initial safety audit. The previous year they had received the national AIChE award for ‘safety inherent in design.’ The car had already shipped to San Francisco, but with a lot of leg work and dedication at the on-site re-inspection, they passed the final inspection and were allowed to compete,” said Ennis.

BASF, Volkswagen, and the UTC Engineering Department were among the sponsors for this project.

Team members included – Sumner Welte, Brooke Washburn, Eric Snider, Ashley Poe, Ben Kegley, and Jonathon Cain.

To view the competition’s final results, visti AiCHE’s website.

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