Plug-in America Awards Grants for Formula Hybrid Cars

Formula Hybrid originated in 2003 when Dartmouth engineering students began researching their first hybrid race car.

Published: 14-Feb-2008

LOS ANGELES, CA--Plug In America, the plug-in car advocacy organization, has awarded grants of $12,500 each to student teams at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Irvine to design, build and race plug-in hybrid cars in the Formula Hybrid International Competition, May 5-7 in Loudon, NH. Funding for the grants, intended to encourage engineering innovation among California college and university students, is from the California Air Resources Board.

"We are extremely proud to make these grants to outstanding student teams at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Irvine," said Jay Friedland, Legislative Director of Plug In America. "Formula Hybrid encourages the next generation of engineers to explore and experience the benefits of electricity use for transportation. Hybrids have already demonstrated its advantages--imagine what it can do with plug-in hybrids and beyond."

Formula Hybrid is an offshoot of the highly successful Formula SAEĀ®, a 27-year-old program sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers in which collegiate teams design, build and compete with formula racecars. Formula Hybrid originated in 2003 when Dartmouth engineering students began researching their first hybrid racecar in hopes of entering it in that year's Formula SAE competition. They developed a hybrid competition upon learning that the Formula SAE rules had been changed, just that year, to disallow hybrids.

"We are delighted to have two great California schools join the Formula Hybrid event," said its Director Douglas Fraser, a research engineer at the Dartmouth College Thayer School of Engineering, which organizes the competition. "Students are incredibly creative in coming up with novel solutions which push the envelope. I am sure the new teams from UC Irvine and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo will add a great additional dimension to the competition."

"I am excited to lead a young energetic Formula Hybrid team in a project which embodies Cal Poly's "Learn by Doing" philosophy," said Justin Jang, Cal Poly Formula Hybrid Team Leader. "With the support of the Mechanical Engineering Department, College of Engineering, Tilton Engineering, and now Plug In America, we hope that this project will help lead us towards more efficient modes of transportation."

The Formula Hybrid competition, which will be held this year at the New Hampshire International Speedway, is a sort of educational hybrid itself, bringing together applications of mechanical and electrical engineering. Both the SAE and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are sponsors of the program, along with Plug In America and major automakers including Toyota, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors.

Under the program, students design and build an open-wheel, single-seat car that must conform to a strict set of rules, or formulas, that emphasize, encourage, and promote drivetrain innovation and fuel efficiency. In fact, a Formula Hybrid vehicle must use at least 15 percent less gasoline than a comparable standard Formula SAE racecar operated under the same conditions, a goal surpassed by many of the entries. Another guideline involves recycling: unlike Formula SAE, Formula Hybrid teams are encouraged to incorporate used racecar parts rather than build everything from scratch. Many teams see the Formula Hybrid competition as a perfect second-year project for students.

About Plug In America:
Plug In America is a nonprofit organization advocating the use of plug-in cars, trucks, and SUVs powered by cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity to reduce our nation's dependence on petroleum and improve the global environment.

About Formula Hybrid:
The Formula Hybrid International Competition, created in 2006, invites teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design, build, and race hybrid formula racecars. The event is organized by the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Founded in 1867, Thayer School unites engineering into a single, flexible department to facilitate innovative research and instruction.

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