A team of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students is one of two in the United States chosen to take part in an international automotive competition. The Valeo Innovation Challenge calls on the students to create an active suspension for “the car of 2030.”

April 6, 2015

News Release

Terre Haute, Ind. — For the second consecutive year, a Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student team has been specially chosen to develop prototype parts to help create smarter, more intuitive cars in the future through the Valeo Innovation Challenge, an international automotive competition with a $109,000 first-place prize.

From more than 1,300 initial project proposals, 20 teams were selected for this important project development stage, with Rose-Hulman representing one of just two teams from United States' colleges and universities. Other teams selected for this prototyping stage hail from China, Egypt, Germany, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan.

Members of Rose-Hulman's team, all mechanical engineering majors, are Scott Johnston, a junior from Federal Way, Washington; Katelyn Stenger, a senior from Burlington, Kentucky; Colin Strate, a sophomore from St. Louis, Missouri; and Christopher Wood, a freshman from Tacoma, Washington.

With $5,000 in funding from Valeo, the students will have until July 17 to develop a working prototype of an “active suspension” for the wheel base of “the car of 2030.” Six finalist teams will be announced on September 1, and those teams will present their prototypes later that month to a jury at the Frankfort Motor Show in Germany. The top three projects will be announced during the show.

“It's just cool to be a part of this,” said Stenger, who is graduating this spring, but plans to continue working on the project this summer before starting a job in the fall.

Projects are being judged on their originality, boldness, relevance to social needs, presentation, technological proficiency, and feasibility, according to competition rules.

Receiving announcement of the Rose-Hulman team's selection for this year's Valeo Innovation Challenge “was a cool thing to wake up to,” said Wood.

In contrast to a normal, “passive” suspension, an “active” suspension system senses road conditions and makes adjustment to provide a smoother ride, and improves tire wear and fuel efficiency as the vehicle holds better to the contour of the road.

Past attempts to build active suspension systems have not been economically feasible, according to team members. Now, advancing technology will allow the Rose-Hulman students, appropriately named Team Suspense, to produce a productive system.

“I've always wanted to make an active suspension system,” said Johnston.

The students believe the biggest challenge will be getting their suspension system's controls to align with the vehicle's other components, while remaining within budget.

Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University, Brown University, and the University of California at Berkeley were other U.S. colleges originally submitting entries for this year's Valeo Innovation Challenge. Rose-Hulman joined Wichita State University in being selected this year.

Valeo, an international auto parts supplier based in France, focuses most of its research and development programs on the design of technologies that reduce motor vehicle carbon emissions and promote intuitive driving.

Learn more about the Valeo Innovation Challenge at https://valeoinnovationchallenge.valeo.com.

About Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Founded in 1874, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is dedicated to preparing its students with the world's best undergraduate science, engineering, and mathematics education in an environment infused with innovation, intellectual rigor, and individualized attention. The college, located in Terre Haute, Indiana, has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 undergraduate students and 100 graduate students. A national survey of engineering department deans and senior faculty, conducted for U.S. News & World Report's College Guide, has consistently ranked Rose-Hulman and its academic programs No. 1 in undergraduate engineering education. The Princeton Review's Best 300 Professors book features six professors from Rose-Hulman—the only institution of higher learning in Indiana to be featured.

Source: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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