The University of Houston Chem-E Car team competed at the 2012 AIChE National Competition recently, taking fifth place, the highest that UH has achieved at the national level.
Students representing UH were An Dinh (team lead), Edward McDowell, Joshua Dillon, Rishabh Mahajan, Sheli Wilson, Stephen Havard, and Tanya Rogers.
Chemical engineering student teams from around the country were challenged to design and construct a size-limited car that is powered by a controlled chemical reaction. The car’s performance was evaluated by its ability to travel a specified distance of 21 meters with a load measuring 300 milliliters. Distance and load parameters were given to the teams an hour before the competition.
“Our 29-pound car had some mechanical issues on the first run, but it was quickly sorted out and we had a thrilling second run as the Zombie Cougalac sped off, then stopped 0.41 meters from the line,” said Dinh.
Since the UH team’s second-place win in the regional competition in April, the entire car was rebuilt to make it more competitive at the national level. “Many of the new components were chosen for an even greater level of safety and reliability,” said Dinh.
The team converted all of the car’s materials to either stainless or aluminum for chemical compatibility. As a commitment to US manufacturing, the team sourced parts and supplies produced domestically.