By Emily Williams | University Communications
DENVER – On April 26, eight CU Denver Mechanical Engineering students literally went the distance, in a vehicle that can travel more than 1,000 miles per gallon.
The students in the Senior Design class competed at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition in Houston, and were awarded first place in the hydrogen fuel cell category when the vehicle they designed and built achieved 1,254 mpg.
The eighth-annual competition brought together 125 high school and college teams from five different countries. The CU Denver team competed with their vehicle, named Archetype, in the Prototype category, which focused on futuristic vehicles that achieved extreme fuel efficiency.
The CU Denver team has spent the last eight months designing and manufacturing Archetype, which is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and made out of carbon fiber. At the competition, the vehicle was tested on a six-mile track where the team demonstrated their design could go the farthest on the least amount of energy.
Team captain and CU Denver senior Ben Johnson credits his team for the victory, “We have an excellent group dynamic which fostered teamwork and synergy even in the most stressful times.”
Associate Professor of mechanical engineering and Team Advisor Ron Rorrer was particularly impressed not only by the students' engineering ability, but also by their character as a team. "Everyone focuses too much on the win, forgetting it is the journey, not the destination, that is important.”
While at the competition, the Archetype team even helped a competing team fix their vehicle. “As the faculty member, perhaps the thing that impressed me was when one of our team members said he’d rather lose to that team than not see them compete," Rorrer said.
This is the second year in a row that the team from CU Denver has won first place in the hydrogen fuel cell category. In 2013. the team won with a vehicle that achieved a maximum of 205 miles per gallon.