UT Student Automobile Engineers Face Toughest Test (210)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee student engineers will participate in one of the nation’s toughest college automotive engineering contests.

 UT-Knoxville is among 14 universities to receive a $10,000 grant, a new mid-sized car, and an invitation to compete in the 1998 Future Car Challenge.

 Dr. Jeff Hodgson, UT’s team adviser, said UT has won or been among the top five teams in seven of nine national competitions since 1989.

 Hodgson, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, said more stringent judging, strict criteria, and higher standard requirements make this contest the most challenging yet.

 “This is probably the most comprehensive and difficult competition we have been in so far,” Hodgson said. “We consider it an honor to be chosen to participate, and we are confident that the students will do a good job.”

 Contestants will use lightweight materials, alternative fuels, and new technologies such as fuel cells — which split hydrogen from gasoline to produce energy with no emissions and improve fuel economy — to make standard family sedans more efficient, Hodgson said.

 UT students are modifying a Dodge Intrepid to use both electricity and gasoline to get up to 50 miles per gallon of fuel, Hodgson said. The cars will compete next June at a site to be determined later.

 The contest is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the automobile industry.

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 Contact: Dr. Jeff Hodgson (423-974-5294)