AIChE Chem-E Car Contest Brings Engineering Students Together

May 15, 2024
Students from Trine University took first place at AIChE’s North Central Student Regional Conference Chem-E Car Competition.

The annual Chem-E-Car Competition hosted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), now in its 26th year, involves multiple regional competitions and a final, international competition held at its annual national student conference. Universities and colleges participate in the event with other North American and international teams. Its purpose is to increase awareness of the chemical engineering discipline among the public, industry leaders, educators and other students.
The contest is a race of distance, not speed. Students are tasked with creating a car no bigger than the size of a shoebox, starts and stops using a chemical reaction, and travels a certain distance — revealed on the day of the race. This year’s distance was 18.7 meters. 

At the AIChE’s North Central Student Regional Conference held April 5-6 at the University of Ohio, Columbus, 14 teams competed in the contest. A team of four students from Trine University, Angola, Indiana, came out on top, finishing just 4.4 centimeters from the target distance. The University of Toledo, University of Michigan, and Cleveland State University also took top spots at the competition. 

Other teams competing at the regional event were McMaster University, Ohio State University, Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

First- and second-prize winners receive $200 and $100, respectively. Regional prize winners and qualifying runs then compete at the Chem-E-Car Competition Finals at the annual national student conference held this November. The first, second and third prizes at finals will be $2,000, $1,000, and $500, respectively.

Some cars take years to build and go through several team members as students graduate and move on to aspiring engineering careers or advanced degree programs. In the case of Miami University, whose team came in 6th and qualified for the finals, the students had been tweaking and perfecting their hydrogen-powered car since 2019. Five of its six team members are seniors graduating this spring. An almost entirely new team will compete in the finals. 

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