Students present green vehicle design research at conference in Malaysia

Small-engine vehicles and sustainable resources are the focus of undergraduate research

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Sakhawat Hossain

Undergraduate students, Sakhawat Hossain (left) and Anson Wong (right) toured the Khoo Kongsi Clan House in Penang, Malaysia during a conference trip where they presented a research paper on small engine vehicles. The paper was only one of two undergraduate papers chosen from U. S. colleges.

Two undergraduates from the College of Applied Science and Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology presented their ‘green’ vehicle design paper at the 2009 Small Engine Technology Conference Nov. 3-5 in Penang, Malaysia. Their paper was one of only 10 international student papers, and only two from the United States, accepted at the international event.

Anson Wong and Sakhawat Hossain presented “Inspiring a College Campus to Design, Create and Build Green Small Engine Vehicles” as part of the international conference sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers and Japan Society of Automotive Engineers. The students’ paper is about the RIT teams that built alternative energy vehicles for Green Vehicle Challenge event, part of the 2009 Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival held in May.

“As only a handful of undergraduate students who attended the conference, Sakhawat and I were extremely fortunate to have this opportunity,” says Wong, a third-year mechanical engineering technology student. “We had the chance to show the international SAE community our work at RIT. We were immersed in an academic and business atmosphere that could not have been recreated.”

The theme of the conference was “Pursuing a Society Less Dependent on Oil” and had a section on how collegiate events accomplish this objective. The Imagine RIT Festival, and specifically the Green Vehicle Challenge, fit very well into this topic, says Robert Garrick, associate professor, manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology, the students’ project advisor.

“They are a great team. This was a fantastic achievement and opportunity for them to represent RIT and RIT’s sustainability vision to an international audience,” says Garrick.

“The conference was amazing because it united so many countries to talk about one topic,” says Wong, who is currently on a co-op experience with General Dynamics, Armament and Technical Products Division. “In a 10-minute conversation, you can learn about the European and Asian points of view, and then share our American ideas. I spoke with people about electric cars in America and then about how liquid, natural gas was becoming extremely popular in Thailand.”

Both students toured parts of Malaysia and Japan on the trip. They were also able to take tours of local companies and participated in discussions about the technology being used.

“I remember going through one of the technical tours with the company called Continental, and they were using the same manufacturing process for their surface mount technology that I learned about in my course at RIT,” says Hossain, a fifth-year student with a double-major in manufacturing engineering technology and economics. “I said to myself, ‘Wow!’ I know exactly what they are doing and what they are actually talking about. I even explained the process to many of the other people on the tour who didn’t know what was going on. I got to actually see what I have learned in class and relate it to the real world.”

Support for the trip was provided by Fred Walker, dean, College of Applied Science and Technology; Maureen Valentine, associate dean; Provost Jeremy Haefner; Donald Boyd, vice president for research; Mary Beth Cooper, vice president for Student Affairs; and RIT Student Government.