Engineers show off lightweight car

Originally published November 12, 2010

As part of the Future of Midwest Transportation symposium, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with Bradley engineering students to discuss their senior projects, an ultra-light urban vehicle.

Before LaHood’s speech, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology Richard Johnson and mechanical engineering professor Martin Morris shared some key features of Bradley’s engineering program.

Johnson highlighted the hands-on learning styles favored by the engineering department and said former students “hated labs, but they truly felt prepared for the real world.”

On display throughout the entire symposium, but especially recognized before LaHood’s keynote address, were mechanical engineering students’ senior projects – ultra-light urban vehicles the students designed and built themselves.

“[The students] don’t have enough time, enough resources or enough people, but they still have to make that vehicle run,” Johnson said. “Sound a bit like the real world?”

Students must incorporate several strict guidelines into their project, including a 45 mph maximum speed, 350 pound maximum weight, a $3,500 budget and the vehicle must be licensed to drive on the streets on any Illinois city.

In addition to the professors’ explanations of the projects, the captains of the two teams working on the ULUVs had the opportunity to address the experts in attendance.

Nathan Petersen and Mike Richards explained the process they went through to build their vehicle and were able to explain to people in the field what has gone into designing a better car for the way people live.

“The best part about this is us giving our students real, useful hands-on experience,” Johnson said.