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Aggies speed into winner’s circle

Engineering students build championship racecar

Published: Monday, June 6, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Hands-on job experience can be valuable to any college student, and in the case of a group of Aggie engineering students, it resulted in a world championship.

Seniors Bejan Sadeghian and Will Dixon were part of a 27-member team that spent the past fall and spring semesters building a hybrid racecar to compete in the fifth annual Formula Hybrid Competition May 2-4 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Their efforts resulted in a dominating victory over 32 other teams, including Dartmouth, Brigham Young University and a Swedish team.

"A lot of us hadn't worked on race cars before. We had never had to build something that had to go run in such a short period of time," Dixon said. "It's really good for all of the engineers involved to get some real life experience and work with a team. It has to actually work or everyone else is going to come ring your neck."

The competition, which consisted of technical inspection, acceleration and timed lap challenges, allowed for interaction between mechanical and electrical engineering students.

"Each group would work on their specific part and then interface with the other group to make sure they're working conjunctively," Sadeghian said. "It was great working with other engineers because we're going to have to do that in the industry. That's probably the biggest thing we all took away from this project."

Completion of the 440-pound car required thousands of man hours and became almost a full-time job for those involved.

"A lot of people did not have a spring break because they were trying to finalize the chassis so we could go get it painted," Sadeghian said. "We spent at least 20 to 30 hours per week in spring. There were plenty of all-nighters."

Team adviser and A&M professor Make McDermott oversaw the senior design class project that received more than $40,000 in University funds, donations and sponsorships from companies such as Caterpillar and Yamaha.

"They've done a wonderful job. Obviously, we won the competition. I really don't do a whole lot. I just try to make sure these guys have the resources they need. They run the project," McDermott said.

A&M was also awarded the Best Engineered Hybrid System by General Motors, an unexpected but welcome victory for the team.

"The vice president of the Society for Automotive Engineers stood up and said, ‘If today was a final, Texas A&M passed and everybody else failed.' So that was some good credit for us," Sadeghian said.

The winning car is currently displayed on the second floor of the Engineering Physics building alongside the trophy case.

"The department heads get to see we're not wasting their money and resources," Dixon said. "They can see we're getting something out this. This is something we can be proud of for the rest of our lives."

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