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COW CAR cleans up competition

NSF grant to boost partnership for plastics industry

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Engelstad selected as SPIE Fellow

Wei wins prestigious photomask scholarship

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COW CAR cleans up competition

Gold medals for emissions, fuel efficiency

Moolander and Aluminum Cow

Participating vehicles were the Aluminum Cow (foreground) and the Moolander FutureTruck. (22K JPG)

The Aluminum Cow — twice a winner of the national FutureCar Challenge competition — came out of a short retirement this year to outstanding results.

The car, re-engineered by students at UW-Madison's College of Engineering to run cleaner and with greater fuel efficiency, came away with two top awards at the world's largest environmental vehicle event this fall.

The Aluminum Cow, a re-engineered 1994 Mercury Sable, won gold awards for its low greenhouse-gas emissions and for fuel efficiency at the Challenge Bibendum, sponsored by French tire manufacturer Michelin. The car also won a silver award for its acceleration performance.

Aluminum Cow and Moolander

FutureTruck and Aluminum Cow team members prepare their vehicles for competition. (38K JPG)

The Cow's performance was even more impressive, according to Glenn Bower, an associate faculty associate in mechanical engineering who oversees the college's student automotive programs, because it competed against specialty cars developed by major vehicle manufacturers like Ford, General Motors and Toyota.

"At first it was pretty intimidating," Bower says of the competition, held Sept. 22-25 in San Francisco and Sonoma, California. "But then we realized we had just as good a chance as anybody if our car stayed together."

The Aluminum Cow won the national collegiate FutureCar Challenge competition in 1998 and 1999, along with a major road-driving competition, Bower adds. "That car basically has won every competition it's ever entered," he says.

The car and its big brother, the two-time national FutureTruck champion Moolander, were invited to the Michelin competition after the Moolander's win at the national FutureTruck competition this summer in Michigan. Only the top three competing university teams from the collegiate FutureTruck competition were invited to the Challenge Bibendum. The competition featured test drives on high-speed oval raceways, breaking and acceleration tests, and measurements of fuel efficiency and pollution control.

The FutureTruck, a 2002 Ford Explorer, did not receive awards in the Challenge Bibendum, as it was competing against much smaller vehicles in categories where its size was a detriment, Bower says. But it managed to hold up in the competition without any mechanical breakdowns, the only collegiate SUV to do so, he says.

Julie Marshaus, a 2002 UW-Madison mechanical engineering graduate who took part in the Challenge Bibendum, says the Aluminum Cow's performance showed student-led automotive projects could compete against the best in the automotive industry.

"The other companies have millions to spend on their vehicles," she says. "We were happy to see we could do some of the same things they did. I think we tested the vehicle in a manner in which we really hadn't before."


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Date last modified: Tuesday, 17-Feb-2004 11:47:00 CST
Date created: 17-Feb-2004

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