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Aspiring automobile engineers ready to test their expertise at annual Formula Hybrid at NH Motor Speedway

Union Leader Correspondent

April 27. 2014 8:11PM

LOUDON — College students from around the world will present innovation in hybrid engines at the 8th annual Formula Hybrid competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week.

The Formula Hybrid Competition was founded and is run by Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and is an interdisciplinary design and engineering challenge for undergraduate and graduate university students.

The competition is free and open to the public and is a field trip for many New Hampshire middle and high school students.

“We feel like this is a good introduction for them for engineering. Many of them come to the event not even knowing what engineers do,” said Amy Keeler, coordinating manager of Formula Hybrid on Friday.

The best days for the public to come are on Wednesday and Thursday when the hybrid cars compete on the race track, she said.

The Formula Hybrid is also often a life-changing opportunity for the competitors, she said.

“We have our top sponsors come every year,” Keeler said, the platinum sponsors are Ford, GM, Chrysler. “They have tables set up and they are out recruiting these kids. … The big automakers are there because they are looking for the next generation of alternative energy for their companies.”

These sponsors also mentor and judge the future engineers at the event.

“Over and over again we hear that Formula Hybrid was the best experience they had in school and it’s changed their lives for the better. It really is a great opportunity for them. It’s their time to shine,” Keeler said.

The teams must collaboratively design and build a formula-style (open-wheeled) electric or plug-in hybrid race car and compete in a series of events. Teams also have to develop and deliver a comprehensive business case that would convince the executives of a fictitious manufacturing firm that the team’s design best meets the demands of the amateur weekend autocross racing market, and that it can be profitably manufactured and marketed — from fuel efficiency to sustainable manufacturing practices.

The event is larger than ever this year with 24 teams hailing from schools including Dartmouth, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University.

The international component of the competition is also expanding this year.

“We have our first team from Turkey this year,” Keeler said. “And three teams from India are coming this year.”

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