It’s not often that a public university can say they’ve defeated Ivy League schools, such Yale and Dartmouth, in anything pertaining to academics. But that’s exactly what a group of University of Idaho students and faculty have done.
A UI engineering team called “Voltz n’ Boltz” competed in the 2014 Formula Hybrid competition, hosted by Dartmouth in Loudon, New Hampshire.
The task was not an easy one — to build a functioning prototype vehicle that appeals to non-professional racecar drivers. The designs must be cost effective, durable and marketable. The teams are evaluated on aspects such as acceleration, endurance and overall presentation.
It may seem like a daunting task, and it very much is, according to Rob Patton, marketing and communications manager for the College of Engineering.
“They’re competing against 12 other schools that are very well known, and that funnel thousands and thousands of dollars into these cars,” Patton said. “They put together a premier project with a limited budget. That’s a testament to what these students and faculty can do.”
Patton wasn’t the only one impressed with the team’s performance. After winning the Chrysler Innovation Award and the General Motors Best Engineered Award, along with a second place finish in the teamwork portion of the event, the students garnered interest from large participating companies.
“The General Motors team encouraged all of the students to leave resumes, and the Chrysler team personally invited every member of Voltz N’ Boltz for a site visit and a job interview,” Patton said. “They would really like to go as a group, which really shows the unity of the team.”
Winning the competition was impressive in more ways than one, according to Patton, who described last year’s attempt as an uphill struggle.
“They had got their car prepped and were doing testing, and at the last minute, things weren’t going the right way and they couldn’t compete,” Patton said.
This display of the ability to overcome adversity is one of the many reasons Voltz N’ Boltz has been so successful this year, Patton said.
Patton stressed that the project is all about teamwork, which is evidenced by the makeup of the team. Comprised of multiple mechanical engineering students, an electrical engineering student, a graduate student mentor and even a virtual technology and design student, there’s still talk of expansion. According to Patton, the team has talked about adding members on the business and communication side of things — and after winning such prestigious awards, it’s hard to imagine the team having a hard time finding new members, Patton said.
Karter Krasselt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org