Michigan Tech Rises to Challenge X
By Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech News Service
MAY 12, 2004 -- Michigan Technological University is one of a handful of U.S. and Canadian universities selected to take part in the latest advanced vehicle technology competition, Challenge X (Challenge X Web Site)
"It's going to be the premier student automobile competition," predicted William Predebon, chair of MTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. "They have raised it to another level."
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility challenges engineering students across North America to explore vehicle solutions that minimize energy consumption and reduce emissions while maintaining the vehicle's utility and consumer appeal.
Teams from 17 schools were chosen from more than 100 applicants to participate in the competition. It replaces FutureTruck, which is winding up this year. At kickoff ceremonies Tuesday in Washington, DC, teams received $10,000 in seed money to jump-start their efforts.
Students will spend the first year of the three-year Challenge X designing their vehicle on the computer. The second year, they will receive the Equinox, a GM sport utility vehicle, and begin putting their plans into action.
"It's up to the schools to decide how to approach the problem," Predebon said. "At Michigan Tech, we've been emphasizing hybrid technology."
Associate Professor John Beard, longtime advisor for MTU's FutureCar and FutureTruck teams, will also help shepherd the Challenge X effort.
"It's probably the most challenging engineering contest that's been put on," he said. "It's another level up from FutureTruck. With all the engineering we're going to do, it's very exciting."
MTU's FutureTruck teams have traditionally used advanced design technology, particularly gas-electric hybrid engines, to build their entries. "We're going to use all our strengths to make it lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient," Beard said. "With gas at $2 a gallon, I don't know what could be more appropriate."
Challenge X will be part of Michigan Tech's Enterprise Program, in which interdisciplinary student teams solve industry problems or participate in high-end competitions.
Other universities participating in Challenge X are Mississippi State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, San Diego State University, Texas Tech University, University of Akron, University of California at Davis, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, University of Texas at Austin, University of Tulsa, University of Waterloo, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.