Team Paradigm vies for FutureTruck trophy

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FutureCar team members Mulhall and Biegler at the GM Proving

A team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison is in Milford, Michigan this week competing against 14 other teams to build a greener sport utility vehicle of the future. Working on the vehicle at the General Motors Proving Ground are (left to right) team members Chris Mulhall and Kris Biegler. (32K JPG)

FutureCar Team

A contingent from Team Paradigm, driving the FutureCar, returned with a trophy from the Tour de Sol as other team members headed for Michigan and Washington to compete in the FutureTruck competition. (55K JPG)

Fifteen University teams, including the College of Engineering’s Team Paradigm, spent time at General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan, last week as part of a competition to design the sport utility vehicle of the future. Two years ago, each team was given a brand new Chevrolet Suburban and $10,000 in seed money. The challenge is to create a greener and more fuel-efficient vehicle by increasing fuel efficiency and lowering greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the safety, comfort and performance of the original vehicle.

University teams are using hybrid powertrains, advanced electronics, hydrogen fuel cells, alternative fuels, lightweight materials and other strategies. Wisconsin’s FutureTruck, group uses a hybrid-electric scheme with a custom-built, weight-saving aluminum frame. Teams of government and industry researchers and engineers are evaluating the vehicles to see how well the challenge has been met. After the competition this week, the vehicles will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol where team members will meet with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to share the results of this joint government-industry project. To follow the competition and view a live webcast visit

The Wisconsin FutureTruck contingent departed for the competition just as College of Engineering students brought home top honors from yet another automotive design competition in May. Graduate student Ted Bohn, freshman Mark Panzer, both in electrical engineering, and engineering physics senior Anton Kozlovsky outperformed eight other teams in the hybrid-electric vehicle category in the Tour de Sol: The Great American Green Transportation Festival. Vehicles compete and are evaluated on performance, consumer acceptability and environmental impact. The top finishing Tour de Sol vehicles are those that meet consumer expectations and are good choices for the environment.

Batteries and a small engine power the Aluminum Cow, Team Paradigm‘s 1994 Mercury Sable. The engine burns a fuel mix of half low-sulfur diesel fuel and half soy-based bio-diesel. The team scored 768 out of a possible 910 points beating its nearest competitor by more than 100 points.

From Waterbury, Connecticut, to Albany, New York, to Boston, Massachusetts, more than 50 cleaner, greener vehicles from 16 U.S. states and 4 countries competed for a national championship. The Tour de Sol is organized by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) an association involved in promoting awareness, understanding and development of non-polluting, renewable energy technologies.