AlChE Student Chapter has strong showing in their first Chem-E-Car competition

Wayne State University’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AlChE) competed in the annual Chem-E-Car competition during the institute’s North Regional Conference on Feb. 28. As part of the competition, teams spent several months building a car no bigger than a shoebox. The model cars, which are powered by a chemical reaction, had two minutes to carry a certain amount of water for a certain distance, on a 30 meter track.

The students faced stiff competition during their first appearance at regionals. Although Wayne State’s team was roughly half of the size of the chapters from other universities, the team placed ninth out of 15, besting teams from many well-known universities in the region. “It feels great to represent Wayne State at the AlChE conference, and I am very fortunate to have been able to start the Chem-E-Car competition team at the university. I look forward to witnessing the success this team will have in the coming years,” reports Wayne State AlChE Student President Alex Bokatzian.

The team’s travel to the competition was supported by the Hank and Joy Kuchta Undergraduate Research Fund. Hank Kuchta (B.S. ’80) is an alumnus from the chemical engineering and materials science department, and he and his wife have been major supporters of the department for years. Faculty advisors for the team include Assistant Professor Eranda Nikolla, Professor and Department Chair Charles Manke, Professor Howard Matthew, part-time faculty member James Lenn, and basic engineering instructor Kristina Lenn. “This competition is a great experience for our students, since they learn how to work in teams and how to apply the principles of chemical reactions to design energy conversion, storage and generation systems,” says Nikolla.

Pictured above-Hank and Joy Kuchta

The chemical engineering and materials science department is proud of the students that competed. “Congratulations to the 2014-15 Wayne State Chem-E-Car team for a very successful run in the regional competition,” comments Manke. “The team designed and built our first Chem-E-Car — including design of the batteries, the iodine clock stopping system, and the mechanical and electrical components of the car — in a remarkably short period of time. Their car performed well on the Chem-E-Car track, achieving better results than many of the cars entered by institutions with several years of experience in the competition. Well done!”

To see more photographs from the competition, visit

For more information on Wayne State’s AlChE student chapter, visit


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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit


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