Cal Poly Hybrid Vehicle Nearly Ready for International Competition

By dancurranjr On April 15th, 2009

logo_calpolyIt’s just a bare skeleton now but before long mechanical engineering students from Cal Poly Pomona will put in skin, wheels, a hybrid engine and turn it into a car.

The hybrid vehicle will be assembled, tested and perfected before Cal Poly students take it to New Hampshire for the Formula Hybrid International Competition the early part of May.

On Thursday, mechanical engineering students, faculty and others gathered at Cal Poly for a ceremony in which representatives of Plug in America presented a $15,000 grant, the bulk of which will go to costs related to building the car, said John Caffrey, professor of engineering and one of two faculty advisers to Cal Poly’s Formula Hybrid SAE Team.

“Without their donation I don’t think we could do this program,” Caffrey said.

Creating a hybrid vehicle from the ground up is no easy task especially for a group of students who are doing it all for the first time and as club project.

Students designed the vehicle, identified the needed materials and are now turning them all into a car that will run with a combination electric motor and internal combustion engine, Caffrey said.

Countless hours have gone into researching, designing and building the vehicle.

Club president Khieu Hoang, a junior from San Bernardino, said club members have had to do a great deal of research in part because it’s something new that students at the university had not done before.

Also, because most of the club members are sophomores and juniors there are some aspects of mechanical engineering that they haven’t learned about in class yet but which they studied on their own to carry out the project.

Then there was the matter of sifting through and identifying the most accurate information on hybrid technology, said Edward Otani, a junior from Cerritos, who is also the club’s treasurer.

That hasn’t always been easy “because hybrid design is not a major field,” he said.

Senior James Ayoub of Orange is secretary of the club and has been working on the vehicle’s frame design.

To him the first milestone in the project came when the vehicle’s frame was completed.

When he saw it before him, Ayoub said he thought, “Wow, this is a full representation…It’s not just a picture on the computer.”

Hoang said he and the members of the club are grateful to Plug in America and other sponsors who are supporting their work.

Plug in America is a non-profit group advocating for the development of plug-in electric vehicles that are clean, affordable and cut the country’s dependency on oil.

The grants, which are funded by the state Air Resources Board, are meant to encourage students to learn and develop hybrid and plug-in technology and gain the knowledge that will prepare them to do the same on a professional level when they graduate, said Paul Scott a representative for Plug in America.

Such clean technology will be key to the future of transportation, he said.

“Twenty years from now you’ll be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that’s not a plug-in,” Scott said.

Because this technology is far more environmentally friendly and reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, “you’re solving a lot of problems all at once,” he said.

SOURCE: Daily Bulletin

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