June 6 – 9: ME students competing at Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge

Baja TeamA team of mechanical engineering students traveled to New York this week with their senior design project, Lynx Motorsports Baja Racer, to compete in the Baja SAE Rochester World Challenge 2013.

The competition is hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and runs from June 6 through June 9.

The car, which was designed and built by the team of students based on guidelines and specifications for this specific competition, is engineered to navigate obstacles and complete different technical feats.

The judging of the competition has several categories of varying weights. The first is the design report and the second is the cost report; 85 points are available for these two categories. The next events are dynamics events for the vehicle—acceleration, hill climb, maneuverability and endurance—and total 700 possible points. The vehicle has been designed knowing the hardest and most heavily weighted section of the competition is the endurance race.  Less than 50 percent of the entering vehicles will complete this race, as it is very demanding and hard on the car.

Team members include Hussain Alabdulmohsin, Jeff Blum, Thomas Caranese, Joseph Gardner, Byron Gray, Jon Le, Sean McDonough, Raymond Packingham and Fraser Sanderson. They are hopeful for a top-ten finish against more than 120 teams from all around the world.

Learn more at ucdlynxmotorsports.com.

Good luck!

ME Senior Design Team wins First Place at the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas

BP3_4725HOUSTON – Determined to be the first team from the University of Colorado Denver to participate in and win the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition – which encourages students to design the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the world – nine members of the university’s Mechanical Engineering Senior Design class achieved their goal on April 7. The team won first place in their category for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle they designed and built that achieved a maximum of 205 miles per gallon.  (Last year’s winner in the same category achieved 169 miles per gallon.)

“When we first got our car on the track, I had a good feeling,” said Aydh Alajmi,  who served as the team’s project manager. “I never thought that six months ago, when we were doing fuel calculations back at school that I would be doing it here in real life. It’s unbelievable.”

The seventh-annual competition, held in Houston on April 5-7, drew 134 high school and college teams from North and South America, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Guatemala. Students competed in a Prototype category, which focused on futuristic vehicles that achieved extreme fuel efficiency, and in an Urban Design category, which focused on more practical vehicles that could conceivably be driven on roadways. All vehicles could use diesel, gasoline, ethanol, Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME), hydrogen or battery electric for power. Alajmi’s team won in the prototype, hydrogen-fueled category.

The team secured funding from Saudi Aramco, which is sponsoring Alajmi’s education at the university, and built a 120-pound, three-wheeled vehicle from carbon fiber and a honeycomb core ribbing system that used hydrogen fuel cells for power. The vehicle, called the H2 Eco Challenger, also utilized a trapezoidal steering mechanism and a mountain bike hydraulic disc brake system to minimize friction and drag. To further their chances of winning, the team selected a 112-pound male driver – making the 10 required laps around a 0.6-mile track extra light.

“When Aramco approved sponsoring my team, it showed the support it provides for creativity, technology and new ideas,” Alajmi said.

The investment proved successful, as the team’s vehicle was tested on the streets of Houston. “The road was very rough. There were potholes and lots of vibrations, so that was a little scary,” said Surawud Martinez, the driver. Wearing a headset that allowed the team to communicate with him as he drove the circular course, Martinez said, “Each time I was whipping around, they were telling me what lap number I was on and how to make better turns and passes.”

The team’s advisor, Ron Rorrer, associate professor of mechanical engineering, said he attributes the success of the project to it being solely student driven, including the vehicle’s design, materials and even how the vehicle was shipped to the competition. “When they pick the things they want to do, that’s where you get the commitment. That’s where you get a student for a three-credit hour class putting in 1,000 hours over nine months,” he said.

Alajmi can attest to that, admitting he has been in the machine shop some nights until 2 or 3 a.m. trying to build the vehicle this spring semester. It was designed last semester by the same team. “This project has been my life. It’s been everything for me this past year. There are not even words to describe my feelings. We’ve been working even for 12 hours and sometimes 15 hours a day.”

While this year’s winners basked in their successes, many teams had to cope with disappointment, as the competition was not without its hiccups. Many vehicles were towed from the course for various mechanical failures, and some teams were disqualified for not following the required technical and safety requirements, including wearing safety glasses as they made last-minute adjustments inside designated construction areas at the city’s George R. Brown Convention Center.

But the purpose of the competition is to learn lessons and experience the trial and error process of mechanical design, Rorrer said.

The team members included Alajmi, Martinez, Ryan Anderson, Ibrahim Alzamanan, David Edelman, John Van Ngo, Dong Nguyen, Ronnie Prado and Nick Wager. Their website, which describes the design of the vehicle and includes photos and video of its performance, is http://h2ecomarathon.wordpress.com.

By Heather Saucier, Aramco Services Company

ME senior design team featured on 9News

On Tuesday, March 12, Ryan Anderson and the H2 Eco-Challenger senior design team from the Department of Mechanical Engineering was featured on 9News at 7 a.m. Anderson discussed the team’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle and the Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Houston in which they’ll participate next month.

Stay tuned for updates on how the team performs in Houston.

Fall Senior Design projects offer solutions for real-world problems

On Dec. 14, 2012, 16 teams of students put their senior design projects on display at the Fall 2012 Senior Design Competition. All four undergraduate disciplines were represented, and winners were chosen from each:  civil engineering—CDOT Diverging Diamond; computer science and engineering—Finite Resource Scheduling; electrical engineering—IntraCell; and mechanical engineering—H2 Eco Challenger. The overall winner was team TheraGO from mechanical engineering. Read the entire story from University Communications.