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Sources: Walter Walawender, 785-532-4318,;
and Megan Young,
Note to editor: Benjamin Clubine is a 2006 graduate of Iola High School.
News release prepared by: Rosie Hoefling, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009


MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University student chemical engineering design team has earned its sixth top-10 finish in the eight consecutive years that it has participated in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' National ChemE-Car Competition.

K-State's ChemE-Car Team placed sixth at the recent national competition in Nashville, Tenn.

Megan Young, senior in chemical engineering, Cummings, and co-captain of the team, said that the car the team presented at the competition was a pressure car called the KSU Wildcat. The car was propelled by a chemical reaction of hydrochloric acid and sodium carbonate, similar to a reaction of vinegar and baking soda.

"As the reaction within the chambers produces carbon dioxide, pressure builds within the piston causing it to extend and pull a cable that is attached to a gear system," she said. "As the cable unwraps, it turns the gear systems, thus propelling the car forward."

According to Walter Walawender, faculty adviser to the team and professor of chemical engineering at K-State, the car had to travel a distance that was specified one hour prior to the competition. The objective is to get as close to that distance as possible and stop the car by using another chemical reaction or by limiting the reaction that propels the car forward. In addition to the distance the car had to travel, the car also had to be able to carry up to half a liter of water.

This year the competition specified a distance of 77 feet that the cars needed to travel, with the KSU Wildcat reaching a final distance of 78.5 feet. According to Walawender, only 2.5 inches separated third through sixth places.

Walawender said that he attributes a lot of K-State's success in the competition to getting freshmen involved with the team early on so as to secure their participation during their time at K-State.

Young said that team members are already preparing for the regional competition in the spring and hope to have three cars ready to compete.

"As co-captain, I am very proud of the team for representing Kansas State University by placing in the top 10 six times in eight years," Young said. "Placing in the top 10 that many times means a lot to the team and the department of chemical engineering here at K-State since the team is always trying new ideas. We try to be on the cutting edge by developing cars or reactions that no one has thought of."

Along with Young, members of the K-State ChemE-Car Team, all chemical engineering majors, include:

Joshua Linn, junior, Abilene; Mark McClure, senior, Assaria; Jordan Groskurth, senior, Derby, and team co-captain; Benjamin Clubine, senior, Manhattan; Katerina Voigt, senior, McPherson; Andrew Doll, senior, Norwich; Neal Walters, senior, Overland Park; and Kevin Turner, junior, Valley Center.