Engineering students from Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, MO have been given a GM Saturn VUE automobile, with the challenge to turn the car into one that runs on hydrogen. Yesterday I talked about University of Michigan students being challenged by a local business to build a small unmanned airplane that runs on a fuel cell.
The Missouri S&T students will, however, be part of a larger competition sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy called EcoCar: The Next Challenge. Teams from 17 different colleges will be competing over 3 years to build an alternative fuel vehicle solution. Only two of these teams, including Missouri S&T have received a hydrogen fuel cell for this competition.
Missouri S&T has an advantage over the other universities in that it actually has a hydrogen fueling station on its campus and this will be extremely helpful in testing the vehicle. When the Hydrogen Road Tour 2008 rolled into town on August 19, 2008 there coincided a ribbon cutting ceremony to open this hydrogen station.
With Bush and Obama right now struggling over whether or not an automotive bailout is imminent, it is exceedingly important to keep pushing forward with alternative fuel vehicles. In fact, if President-Elect Obama gets his way, the bailout package will assist GM, Ford and Chrysler in developing high mileage alternative fuel vehicles that people want to buy. Bailout or not, competitions such as EcoCar only serves to move the industry in the right direct and inspire college students, soon to be in the regular work force, to do the same.