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/Panelita, a vehicle moved by a chemical reaction wins in United States

Panelita, a vehicle moved by a chemical reaction wins in United States

  • Panelita came in 3° and 5° place in two heats against 41 teams.

  • Chem-E-Car was awarded the most consistent at the 2016 Annual Student Conference in the U.S. Photos: From the author.

  • The results among the vehicles had differences of only inches.

  • 150 universities and more than 500 students participated in the 2016 Annual Student Conference.

  • Laura Aponte won an International Student Travel Grant to attend the 2016 Annual Student Conference.

Besides moving by means of chemical reactions, the small-scale vehicle prototype has a specific load and all the required safety measures in place. The vehicle won an award at the 2016 Annual Student Conference, an event organized by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), in San Francisco.

The designers of Panelita are a group of Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Chemical Engineering students in Bogotá which won the award for "Most Consistent". It was the first time they participated in this event.

The main purpose of the event is for Chemical Engineering students from across the world to interact and test their knowledge in designing of prototypes.

The competing vehicle should stop autonomously and halt nearest to a target and also carry certain load. These specifications were provided just one hour before the competition, therefore the teams had little time to make adjustments; 41 vehicles participated in the competition.

The members of the AIChE Student Chapter in Bogotá participated in two series, where they came in 3rd and 5th place. The award was shared with engineers of the University of Alabama who also came in the same spot in both heats.

"The results of all competing prototypes were very similar and the final winning distances were just a few inches apart," said the UNal students.

During the event the organization presented seven international leaders who won the "Travel grant for international students" to help the students travel to the event. This grant was bestowed to UNal Chemical Engineering student Laura Aponte, and provided through a promotion entitled "Doing a World of Good Campaign".

Other students from Malaysia, Pakistan, Honduras, Indonesia, China, and Kazakhstan were also provided the grant.

More than 500 students from 150 universities participated in the 4-day event which included academic and social events as well as conference workshops and other competitions.

The UNal students obtained access and the right to represent Latin America after winning the regional competition which was held in Medellín. Up to now only universities from Mexico had had the opportunity to compete in this competition.

In 2014 the first student chapter of AIChE was formed at UNal-Bogotá and therefore the Chem-E-Car team, which then began working on the prototype. These couple of years, more than twenty Chemical Engineering students have worked on this project. The current team is comprised by six Chemical Engineering and one Mechatronics Engineering students.