Engineering Club Places Third At Its First-Ever Regional Competition
Riverside, Calif. (April 22, 2016) – Chemical engineering students from California Baptist University participated in the regional Chem-E-Car competition for the first time and came away with an impressive third place finish.
The annual competition pitted universities' American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) clubs against each other to construct a fuel-powered miniature car that could travel a given distance. Fourteen cars competed in the final contest which was held at University of California, Riverside, on April 15-16.
"This was the exposure we needed as a smaller, relatively new club. We showed up with a very simple, large car that many people were surprised it even worked," said Evan Schneider, a chemical engineering junior. "I'm really excited because I could never have expected our first try, knowing so little to turn out so well. It's a confidence booster."
The AIChE team at CBU consisted of seven chemical engineering students that garnered help from CBU faculty and mechanical engineering students, to design and build their shoebox-size car. With a short time frame and no prototype to work from, the team's aim was to get into the competition with a functioning car, said Stephen Dueck, a chemical engineering junior.
To keep on schedule and costs low, students often designed parts themselves by recycling materials from the engineering shop. The students also found an efficient way to produce fuel by using a combination of sodium bicarbonate and hydrochloric acid for fuel.
"We turned what was essentially baking soda into fuel," said Schneider, of the team's fuel choice. "We didn't overcomplicate things at all. It was probably the simplest car we could have built."
Simplicity worked to the team's favor, as they were able to build a car on time and for approximately $100.
The third place finish qualifies the team to participate in the national competition in November.
"A good performance shows… that we have students who are hard-working, enthusiastic and technically competent," said Dr. Mark Anklam, professor of chemical engineering and chair of the program.