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Competitions, conventions highlight year for mechanical engineering organizations

Student organizations and competition teams in mechanical engineering wrapped last spring having attended at least four competitions, hosted a regional conference and establishing several peer review and advising sessions. This fall, they will prepare new vehicles, as well as begin their plans to travel to conferences and competitions around the country.

Mechanical engineers from the University of Missouri College of Engineering prepare their cars for the Student Design Challenge at the Mizzou chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers district’s annual Student Professional Development Conference.

ASME hosts annual conference

The University of Missouri College of Engineering chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers hosted its district’s annual Student Professional Development Conference (SPDC) in late March at the Bond Life Sciences Center. The event featured oral presentations, a poster/web design contest and the Student Design Challenge, where teams competed to create a set of four differently powered cars that would create a chain reaction to reach a certain distance.

Members of academia and industry from the AMSE Great Midwest Can-Am District, which includes members from 12 states and one Canadian province, came as spectators, keynote speakers, competition participants and judges for the three-day conference. This was the second time MU hosted the event for its district.

Officers for 2012-2013: Lily Ellebracht, president; Jacob Miller, vice president; and Jonathan Miller, treasurer.

Pi Tau Sigma prepares for national convention

MU Engineering hosts one of the oldest chapters of Pi Tai Sigma. Last year, the organization inducted 30 new members and hosted peer resume reviews before the career fairs. The group plans to do more reviews this academic year, as well as attend the 2013 PTS national convention in Columbus, Ohio, in February.

For their outreach initiatives, group members are looking to expand the organization’s network by reaching out to PTS alumni. They hope this will provide current members with contacts to alumni members who can provide them with academic and industrial tips from their expertise and experience. The group is also planning to get involved and fundraise during the 2013 Engineers’ Week.

PTS members also hold Peer Advising Nights each semester. MAE underclassmen may take advantage of this event to meet with upperclassmen in PTS, who advise the underclassmen on what courses to take and provide information on different MAE faculty and any other tips they can divulge.

“I personally took advantage of this my freshman year, and it was a huge help to determining my classes and professors,” said PTS President Steven Reeves.

Officers for 2012-2013: Steven Reeves, president; Lily Ellebracht, vice president; Vicki DiLisio, secretary; Kyle Nordike, treasurer; Cody Allard, activities coordinator.

BUV team places third

The MU Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) team achieved the best fill time at its annual endurance race competition in April. Photo courtesy of the Mizzou BUV team

The University of Missouri College of Engineering Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) team competed in this year’s Annual Basic Utility Vehicle Design Competition, sponsored by the Institute for Affordable Transportation.

Mizzou placed third among three teams that competed in this year’s nine-hour-long endurance race, held April 21 at Conrad Farms in Batavia, Ohio. Mizzou’s vehicle had a hydraulically driven lift bed capable of pulling more than 6,000 pounds. Teams scored points for the amount of water their vehicles could carry per lap through the 2.1-mile course of muddy fields and woods. The team managed to carry 110 gallons per lap and set the best fill time at seven minutes.

“It was the best BUV that we could have made based on what we believed would be useful to someone in a Third World country,” said last year’s team president Michael Rutz.

BUV competitions test the efforts students from around the U.S. to create simple, low-cost utility vehicles that can be beneficial to residents of developing countries.

Officers for 2012-2013: Amer Krvavac, president; Andrew Gunn, vice president; Martin Kays, secretary; Jacob Harris, finance manager.

AIAA team returns from 5-year hiatus

The Mizzou AIAA rocket team puts Truman II together at the 7th Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC), in Green River, Utah.

After a five-year interval of inactivity, students from the University of Missouri College of Engineering’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) team in late June entered a rocket in the 7th Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC), in Green River, Utah.

Competing in the basic category, the team’s solid fuel rocket, Truman II, was required to carry a 10 pound payload and tasked to reach an apogee (flight peak altitude) between 5,000 and 13,000 feet, attempting to come as close to 10,000 feet as possible. With opponents from as far away as Montreal and Brazil, Truman II came in fourth out of seven entries in the basic category.

Judges deemed the vehicle, constructed of carbon fiber materials, recoverable and reusable, one of the criteria used to rank flights. Jonathan Jennings, team treasurer, said that some teams competing in the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association-sponsored event were flying fourth and fifth generation rockets.

The team already is planning for the 2013 competition, but both Blickhan and Jennings believe the groundwork laid this year will ensure an even more successful launch next June.

Officers for 2012-2013: Trent Kersting, president; Nathan Park, vice president; Jonathan Jennings, treasurer; Josh Kroese, secretary.

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Hydrogen car team takes a new car to competition

Tigergen III, the Mizzou Hydrogren Car team’s newest vehicle travels the course around Discovery Green in Houston at the 2012 Shell Eco-marathon March 28-April 1. While the car didn’t manage to complete a qualifying run, team members say they are looking forward to improving the car and taking it to next year’s competition. Photo courtesy of the Mizzou Hydrogen Car Club

The Mizzou Hydrogen Car team raced its newest car, Tigergen III, at the 2012 Shell Eco-marathon March 28-April 2, and while the car didn’t take home a prize, team members say they look forward to making improvements to the vehicle and racing in next year’s competition.

Junior Nathan Park, a mechanical engineering major, did not leave the competition empty-handed; he won a $1,000 scholarship.

Mizzou Hydrogen Car team members have worked on Tigergen III for the past two years. Parts from its predecessor, Tigergen II, were recycled for use in the new car..

Entries in the urban concepts fuel cell category at the Eco-marathon must complete a qualifying run of at least 10 laps and three stops around a course comprised of the streets bordering Discovery Green, a public park area that promotes healthy living and sustainability, in downtown Houston. The objective of the competition was to Tigergen III’s best run was its last, completing six of the 10 laps necessary before the fuel cells shut off and the car coasted to a stop.

Officers for 2012-2013: Sean Conway, president; Ben Stedem, head mechanical engineer — Fall 2012; Andy Bank, head mechanical engineer — Spring 2013; Lara Pisarkiewicz, head mechanical design; Marcus Friedrich, project manager; Ryan Tschannen, head chemical engineer; Tim Laidlaw, head electrical engineer; Malek Gentry, secretary; Markell Hayes, treasurer; Dakota Burke, head of sponsor relations.

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Mizzou SAE team places 14th in national competition

Tanner Thiessen (left) and Corey Birkmann push Mizzou’s SAE Formula car, with driver Mike Ramer at the wheel, away from the race track. Jacob Brown walks alongside the car while Ryan Sobotka carries supplies back to the team’s trailer.

With Formula SAE competitions, rankings aren’t only determined by which team possesses the fastest car. For most teams, speed accounts for less than 10 percent of the total points awarded. These competitions take a much broader view of what it takes to win at the racetrack.

Brown, team adviser Marty Walker and 16 other students from the University of Missouri College of Engineering’s Formula SAE team traveled to the Michigan International Speedway, in Brooklyn, Mich., May 9 to 12, to compete in this year’s Formula SAE Michigan competition. The team placed 14th overall among 121 schools from around the world.

Placements in Formula SAE competitions are based on points earned in eight categories. Three categories are “static events,” which include cost,  — how much the car would cost if automakers were to produce the car — design and presentation, which is the score for how the team presents all the facts, data and information on the car.

Design is one of most significant of the static events, according to Walker. In this event, the team member who leads each aspect of design makes a presentation about it to an industry professional. The team member will explain and sometimes defend why the team chose to go that direction with the car.

The other five categories are “dynamic events,” which involve how the car actually performs. They are acceleration, which the team members liken to a drag race; skid pad, which tests the car’s suspension and cornering; autocross, which is “one lap as fast as you can,” Jacob Brown, team president, said; endurance, a 22-kilometer race that tests the car’s durability and the racers’ abilities to compete; and economy, which is the fuel efficiency.

Officers for 2012-2013: Jacob Brown, president; Mike Ramer, vice president; and Steve Reeves, treasurer.

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