Competition Information

The next competition will take place virtually this fall!

The AIChE North-Central Regional Conference will take place virtually during the fall semester. Although further information has not been released yet, we are excited about being able to compete in the formerly canceled competition. This page will be updated once the new format and dates are released!

The ChemE Car timeframe is as follows:

Note: This timeline is the norm for a in person school year, it will most likely be altered for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters.

  1. From the beginning of the Fall semester until the end of the Winter semester, we design, test, and build multiple cars. One car is chosen to represent the university at the AIChE North-Central Regional Competition.
  2. The top cars, a number designated before competition, will qualify for the AIChE Annual Competition which is held at the AIChE Annual Student Conference.
  3. During the spring/summer, sub-team captains will look for ways to improve the car that qualified at the Regional Competition while also designing a car that will compete at the next Regional Conference.
  4. The next Fall Semester marks the last few months of improving the qualified car and competing at the Annual Competition. Sub-teams then begin working on a new batch of cars.

According to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the purpose of the ChemE Car Competition is :

  • To provide chemical engineering students with the opportunity to participate in a team-oriented hands-on design and construction of a small chemical powered model car
  • To demonstrate the ability to safely control a chemical reaction by changing a chemical reactant(s)
  • To design and construct a car that is powered with a chemical energy source that will carry a specified load over a given distance and stop
  • To encourage students to become actively involved in their professional society
  • To increase awareness of the chemical engineering discipline among the general public, industry leaders, educators and other students

Some more logistics of the car requirements include:

  • Both the chemical reaction propelling the vehicle and the start/stop reaction (if there is one) must be physically on the vehicle during the competition (i.e., pre-loading of a drive system such as a capacitor assembly is not allowed).
  • The vehicle must be powered by a chemical reaction and must be stopped by a quantifiable change, and direct control, of the concentration of a chemical species.
  • The car must be an autonomous vehicle and cannot be controlled remotely. Pushing to start the vehicle or using a mechanical starting device is not allowed.
  • On-board computer control System (ex Arduino or Raspberry Pi unit) are allowed but must not in any way control/measure the distance traveled. The program must be loaded onto the controller/computer/processor prior to the competition, and the settings may not be changed after the competition begins.
  • No mechanical force can be applied to the wheel, gears, driveshaft, etc., or ground to slow or stop the car (e.g. no brakes).
  • Internal combustion engines using an alternative fuel (e.g., biodiesel, ethanol, etc.) are allowed. The fuel MUST be completely synthesized by the students (no additive blending is allowed).
  • There can be no mechanical or electronic timing device(s) to stop the chemical reaction or stop the car. In addition, a timing device cannot utilize what is normally considered as an instantaneous reaction.
  • All components of the car must fit into a box of dimensions no larger than 40 cm x 30 cm x 20 cm. The car may be disassembled to meet this requirement.
  • The cost of the all vehicle components and the chemicals must not exceed $3500 USD. The vehicle cost includes the donated cost of any equipment.

More information on the competition is available at: