Category Archives: News

Australian Students Claim Speed Record for Electric Vehicles

A team of UNSW engineering students has been officially recognised as the new world record holders for the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500 kilometres.

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), world motorsport’s governing body, updated its official record with the new mark of 106.966 kilometres an hour set by team Sunswift in July (pdf). The previous record of 73 kilometres an hour stood for 26 years.

“It’s not often you can confidently say you made history before you even graduated,” Sunswift’s project director and third-year engineering student Hayden Smith said.

Sunswift is Australia’s top solar car racing team. Its current vehicle eVe is the fifth to be built and raced since the team was founded in 1996.

More than 100 undergraduate students contributed to Sunswift’s successful world record attempt over the past two years.

“If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you’re never too young to make an impact,” Smith said.

UNSW Engineering Dean Professor Graham Davies congratulated the students for what he called “another exceptional feat”.

Earlier versions of the Sunswift car have been used to set a world record for the fastest solar powered road trip from Perth to Sydney, and a Guinness World Record for the fastest solar car.

“For a student project to achieve a new world record for electric vehicle speed and endurance is truly remarkable,” Professor Davies said.

“It goes to show what exceptional students we have here at UNSW.”

With the world record now official, the team is set to embark on its next major challenge – modifying the eVe to meet Australian road registration requirements.

“eVe will now be taken off the road for a few months to begin the transformation,” Smith said, adding that the car could be registered and on city streets within a year.

“We’ve always wanted to keep pushing the cultural change towards electric vehicles, and this is another big step in that direction.”

Source: UNSW

Shortage of Petroleum Engineering Faculty

For Colorado School of Mines petroleum engineering professor Carrie McClelland, teaching a  seminar of 45 students seems like a bit of relief. Normally her class sizes are closer to 80 or 90.

“It makes it difficult to make sure that they’re still getting a great education,” she said.

Enrollment in petroleum engineering at the school of mines, and at similar programs around the country has risen dramatically in the last five years in response to the nation’s energy boom.

Students Invent Exercise-Driven Phone Charger

Your cellphone battery is draining while you walk around. Why not harness some of the energy you’re generating to charge your device? That’s the big idea behind Chicago startup Ampy, according to Crain’s Chicago Business:mypower-team

“Co-founders Tejas Shastry, Alex Smith and Mike Geier met in an entrepreneurship class at Northwestern University as doctoral engineering students. Their wearable device stores the kinetic energy you generate in an internal lithium ion battery. Plug in your smartphone or another device into the USB port to start charging. According to Ampy, you can power a smartphone for three hours with the energy generated by walking 10,000 steps, bicycling an hour or running for 30 minutes.”

The three students, all in materials science and engineering, originally called their device MyPower. McCormick, the magazine of Northwestern’s engineering school, reports:

“[T]hey turned to inductive charging, in which a magnet generates energy by oscillating inside a coil. The energy would charge a small lithium-ion battery inside the device, which in turn would charge a smartphone via a USB port. They called the device MyPower.

But would runners use it, and would it fulfill their needs? To answer that question, the students talked to as many runners as possible: friends, colleagues, and even strangers at sporting goods stores. They asked runners to jog with the device and provide feedback on comfort, usability, and size. A bigger device could create more power but could be awkward to carry, so they worked to find a middle ground. They learned that placing the device on the runner’s hip generated the most energy.”

A Kickstarter campaign runs through Nov. 9 but by October 14 had already surpassed its goal of $100,000.

See a video series on BuzzFeed.

2012-13 Student Loan Total: $110 billion

From Market Watch:

“American students borrow twice as much as they did two decades ago and the total student debt mountain has increased fourfold over that period. But women appear to be taking on more debt than their male counterparts, writes Quentin Fottrell for Market Watch.

The amount a typical borrower owes has more than doubled over the past 20 years, according to new analysis of government data, The Changing Profile of Student Borrowers, by the non-profit Pew Research Center. In 2012, students carried a median loan amount of US$26,885 versus US$12,434 two decades ago.

In 2012-13 students borrowed US$110 billion for higher education versus US$24 billion two decades ago, adjusted for inflation. “They have higher borrowing rates today and higher costs of tuition,” says Richard Fry, senior economist at Pew Research Center.”
Full report on the Market Watch site