After placing first at regionals, ChemE Car prepares for national competition

ChemE Car wins regionals
The CSU ChemE Car team snagged first place at the regional competition.

Colorado State University’s ChemE Car team is accustomed to placing at competitions, and this year was no different. They took home the top prize at regionals by placing first, and hope to continue their winning streak at nationals in Pittsburgh this October.

Last year, ChemE Car placed an impressive third at regionals and seventh at nationals; however this year is shaping up to be even more successful with a new concept and eight returning members. The team is made up of chemical and biological and electrical and computer engineering students, but the team is always looking to diversify with members from all engineering disciplines.

Annually, teams from colleges all over the country participate in the national competition. Criteria is based on distance driven with a specified water load, and the car must be both powered and stopped by a chemical reaction. This year, the team used a hydrogen fuel cell for the vehicle’s power source, a feature that has been consistent for several years. The car they are currently building for nationals has a modified stopping mechanism from previous models. It’ll be an iodine clock reaction, a feature that will make the car even more reliable than before. The team is also considering 3D printing a new chassis to repair damage incurred during transportation to and from competitions.

“Our vehicle’s motors provide more than enough power to overcome any bumps on the floor, and we generate more than enough voltage in our power source than needed, so any fluctuations there are taken care of while keeping the car at a constant velocity. We also have our iodine clock circuit connected to its own light source so the light of the building does not affect the circuit’s ability to detect the reaction,” said ChemE Car president, Kylee Harris.

From team meetings to individual research to fundraising and outreach, hundreds of hours of work go into the final product. “Being on the ChemE Car team has been an awesome experience! It is really rewarding to get hands-on experience and see something you helped research and build come together. I’ve made some great friends through ChemE Car, and bonding over pizza, late-night testing, and trips to competitions are memories I’ll never forget.”

If you would like to support CSU’s ChemE Car team or follow them on their journey to nationals, visit their website.