DATE: Saturday, March 28, 2009
TIME: 3 p.m.
PLACE: Totman Hall, Eastman Lane, UMass Amherst campus
Nine teams of chemical engineering students will pit their hand-made, shoebox-sized vehicles against each other in a race that tests their understanding of balancing basic concepts such as aerodynamic design, load, work and energy available in a controlled chemical reaction.
The little cars must run on sustainable biofuel, and each will have two chances to cover a specified course while carrying a small load of water, between about one and 16 ounces. But the exact weight of payload and exact distance to be traveled (at least 50 feet, but not more than 100 feet) are not revealed until an hour before the race start. This requires the student engineers to have previously tested their car’s capabilities and how to balance weight, load and fuel needed. Cars are allowed no brakes or timing devices, so the fuel must burn out in time to stop the car within the required minimum and maximum distances.
The race is the exciting highlight of the two-day 2009 Northeast Regional Student Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) hosted by the UMass Amherst chapter on March 27 and 28.
AIChE is the world''s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 40,000 members from 93 countries and more than 160 student chapters across the country. The UMass Amherst chapter of AIChE has more than 70 active members.