Terre Haute, Ind. (WTHI) - Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Chem-E-Car team is celebrating a 4th place finish against teams from around the world.
Team leader Noah Eckstein says the team has been working for weeks on the car.
"What Chem-E-Car is, is we build a car powered entirely by chemicals. You can't have the traditional mechanical brakes or an internal combustion engine like you would have in a car it's all a reaction that takes place on the car, we generate our own power" Eckstein says.
Team members say the competition is designed around the car being able to carry being able to carry an unknown load. The team did not know what the load was until the day of the competition.
"An approximately shoebox size car that was powered off a chemical reaction to go a specified distance. It doesn't matter if you go over or under but how close you can get to that specified distance" team member Nate Schwindt says.
The car was designed and built by several students and they have affectionally named it "The Great Gassby."
While the car may not look like a typical automobile it is powered entirely by a chemical reaction the students have designed around.
"After it is released it goes through a 0.5 horsepower air vein motor that sends it down to these wheels and sends it down the track" Eckstein says.
Eckstein says he has put a lot of his time into this project and says it has helped him learn hard lessons he will use for his career.
"We learned that if you get a problem you don't think you can solve just go for it" he says.
The team says they will take what they've learned this year and continue to improve their designs. They are hoping to make nationals for the second time next year.