Large CBE student contingent at conference includes Chem-E-Car team

Members of ISU’s Chem-E-Car team “Lime-E-Lanturns” in the national competition at the AIChE Annual Meeting.

Eighteen undergraduate students representing Iowa State University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering took part in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.

The event brings together chemical engineering students, educators, industry professionals and more from around the nation to attend information sessions, networking events, competitions and more, in what is considered the field’s premier forum.

One of the highlights of the event is the ever-popular Chem-E-Car competition, which involves university student teams each designing and constructing a miniature car that runs a straight-line course, powered and stopped by chemical processes.

With a second-place finish in the AIChE regional student conference last spring, Iowa State’s “Lime-E-Lanturns” team qualified for the national competition held during the conference in Minneapolis, the second consecutive year Iowa State’s chapter had earned a berth in the nationals. Their final run saw the car travel to 5.34 meters from the finish line, good for a 22nd place finish. A total of 40 teams participated.

Mazsam Donta discusses his research poster with professor Tom Mansell in a practice session at the recent CBE Showcase. His presentation netted second place in his division at the AIChE Annual Meeting.

In the research poster competition, ISU’s Maxsam Donta took second place in his division.

Jamie Pryhuber, a CBE senior, said of her experience, “With the Chem E Car team, I learned how to deal with high stress situations such as forgetting a data set in our documentation package in order to pass the safety inspection – but this also proved the amazing teamwork within Chem-E-Car when we solved our issues and passed inspection. Through being a student volunteer at the conference, I had the experience of mingling with other universities, witnessing panels, and being a friendly face to anyone in attendance. The undergraduate research poster competition at the end of the conference was a great was to finish, since I had the chance to speak to interested professors and students, as well as share my excitement about biological engineering. Overall, the conference is a very rewarding experience if you are involved.”

Chem-E-Car team leader Alex Sazinski, who was attending the Annual Meeting for the first time, said overall he was very pleased with the team’s effort. He explained that in testing the team only had the car’s unusual aluminum air battery activated for short periods of time, but in

A portion of the 18-member ISU CBE group gathers at the meeting.

the competition it was active for a longer period of time, which used up more of its resources and robbed the car of some power, resulting in a shorter-than-hoped-for run. But, he said, the car’s battery system turned heads and spurred interest. “As our team had that fairly unique power mechanism, many teams inquired how to build a similar battery without causing it to short and to generate enough power.”

Sazinski also pointed out the team was under time pressures to prepare for the Annual Meeting competition. “Due to being on the team that made it to this conference for the first time ever last year, we were not able to start construction of our car until early spring of this year. This is short in contrast with other schools who normally begin construction in the fall semester, about a year in advance. We managed to make a power mechanism that had failed for the last two years consecutively at the regional conference work, and we used it to earn second place in the regionals and move on to nationals for the second time.”

The Iowa State CBE students who participated in the AIChE Annual Meeting included Vince Anderson, Martin Asama, Derek Bruun, Maxsam Donta, Trang Hoang, Carolyn Jennrich, Jennie Larson, James Lichty, Andy Mettry, Akash Mitra, Alexandria Mullally, Josh Potvin, Jamie Pryhuber, Alex Sazenski, Kristian Shipley, Skyler Streff, Shawn Van Bruggen and Austin Weiser. Professor Stephanie Loveland was the faculty mentor.

More photos from the meeting can be seen on the CBE Facebook page,