Feel Good Friday: Combusting with Joy

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:41 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A team of University of Toledo engineering students is celebrating an amazing accomplishment.

It took many months of hard work, but this fall, they snagged first place in a national engineering competition in Phoenix, hosted by the American Institute for Chemical Engineers. Not only did they beat out more than 35 schools, but they are national champs for a second year in a row, a feat only accomplished once before.

With the support of sponsors and mentors, the challenge was the build a shoebox-sized car that would be powered and stopped by a chemical reaction. But that’s not all: the vehicle must also stop within a specific distance of the finish line; a distance the team is only told an hour before the run.

Junior Derek Etzler described the mood: “It’s very cutthroat in the sense of how all the universities compete, but on the student level, we all have a good time,” he explained. “Engineering students love to learn, so we still end up talking to other teams and seeing what their car is, and how they designed their car.”

The team is made up of nine students, of varying ages and backgrounds. Other than winning the hardware, members said their biggest accomplishment has been working - and growing - together.

“People think of Virginia Tech, Purdue University, Cornell .. because they’re Ivy League universities that are, in fact, participating in this competition with their own teams. So without a doubt, for Toledo to come together as a team and really take that first place, [it] feels like an accomplishment! A bit of an underdog story,” Etzler said.

Next year, the Rockets will try again, hoping to become the first to win three in a row.

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