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COE's Team Paradigm 'Future Car' first again in national competition

COE students raced again to the winner's circle in front of the nation's capital June 10 in the FutureCar Challenge. The 10-member team was announced the winner in the year-long competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the United States Council for Automotive Research. The team beat 12 other student teams from some of the nation's top engineering programs. Team Paradigm scored 973 out of 1000 points possible beating the next closest competitor by more than 300 points. The team tied for first place in last year's competition.

In addition to finishing first overall, Team Paradigm was the top performer in gas mileage, acceleration, workmanship, appearance and dynamic handling among others. The car achieved a fuel rating of 62.7 miles per gallon, which is a 142 percent improvement over the commercial version of that car, an aluminum body, Mercury Sable.

Team Paradigm's faculty advisor Glenn R. Bower says reducing the vehicle's weight was key to the team's victory. Students removed an additional 250 pounds from the car.

"We won the first event and we just went back in and tried to fix something else," says Bower. "We never told ourselves we won. We just kept working hard until the very end and it paid off." Cars are judged on a variety of measures, such as emissions, handling and a range of features important to consumers. The vehicles typically employ hybrid electric designs that run on both gasoline and battery packs.

Team Paradigm's membership (from Wisconsin unless noted) includes: Mike Koplin, senior, Waukesha; Jenny Topinka, junior, Pittsville; Anton Kozlovsky, junior, Lone Rock; Ethan Brodsky, senior, Madison; Neel Vasavada, junior, Palatine. Ill.; Chris Desalvo, senior, Mattoon; Joseph Bayer, 1999 graduate, Waukesha; Jon Butcher, 1999 graduate, Wisconsin Rapids; Tim Roebke, senior, Appleton; Jason Helgrem, junior, Beaver Dam; Spyro Blatseas, junior, Appleton; Ken Frederick, senior, Appleton; Devin Chung, senior, Monterey Park, Calif; Troy Nergaard, senior, Eau Claire; Luke Zimbric, junior, Wauwatosa; and Mitch Pederson, sophomore, Eau Claire.

The FutureCar Challenge encourages students at the nation's top engineering colleges to create a new generation of high-performance, high-mileage cars. The ultimate goal has been to develop a car that can achieve up to 80 miles per gallon without any corresponding change in size, performance or other features consumers expect. Next year's competition will be called FutureTruck, as students work to improve Chevrolet Suburbans.

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