News Releases

Students power ChemE car all the way to nationals
Release Date Tuesday, April 16, 2013

RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 16, 2013) - A team of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students will compete nationally in San Francisco later this year after a car powered by chemical reactions they engineered recently took second place at a regional competition.

The "Punky Cruiser" is one of 31 teams eligible to compete in the national competition after finishing second at the Rocky Mountain Regional Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Chapter meeting held at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.

The ChemE car competition involves shoe box sized cars powered by chemical reactions engineered by students. Cars are required to start within a given time frame, and then travel a set distance carrying weight both of which are set on the day of competition. Teams must configure their chemical reactions to accommodate the variables on short notice. The three top teams whose cars stop closest to the set distance will advance to the national competition.

Trent Nelson, a chemical and biological engineering student from Sisseton, took second in the research paper competition for his research presentation entitled "A Wavelength Shifting Polymer to Enhance Growth and Production of Cyanobacteria."

In all, 19 School of Mines students traveled to the conference and comprised the largest university group, excluding the host university.

Students on the "Punky Cruiser" team were Jacob Chambers of Pierre, electrical engineering; Wyatt Hunter-Johnson of Vermillion, chemical engineering; Alison Barnes of Sioux Falls, chemical engineering; Jonathan Lindgren of Crystal, Minn., chemical engineering; Austin Hembry of Glenwood, Iowa, chemical engineering; Seth Ostlie of Truman, Minn., chemical engineering; Cody Buehner of Canistota, mechanical engineering; Heather Hensman of Powell, Wyo., mining engineering; Megan Bradley of Chadron, Neb., chemical engineering; Jesse Hinricher of Pipestone, Minn., chemical engineering; Kathryn Starr of Eureka, Nev., chemical engineering; Mark Braunesreither of Mission Hill, chemical engineering; Elias Hoffmann of Dell Rapids chemical engineering; Joseph Houck of Russell, Minn., chemical engineering; Stephen Hansen of Dassel, Minn., chemical engineering; Barbara Hadrava of Bemidji, Minn., chemical engineering; and Tyler   Punt of Aberdeen, mechanical engineering.

Hembry, Barnes, Ostlie, Bradley and Hinricher were Mines student team members on the line running the car.

Other Mines students attending the conference were Adelyn Crabtree of Pierre, chemical engineering; Daniel Hines of Dell Rapids, chemical engineering; Trevor Moheit of Vacaville, Calif., chemical engineering; Evan Sellers of Volga, chemical engineering; Zachary Kroehler of Henderson, Minn., mechanical engineering.