May 8, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- A solar-powered race car and a Mini Baja race car designed and built by Western Michigan University engineering students will take center stage when three major engineering organizations meet for the May 13-15 MotionExpo at Detroit's Cobo Convention Center.
"The WMU vehicles represent applications of the kind of technology that will be shown in displays across the exposition floor," says Fred Sitkins, WMU instructor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, who also is the executive secretary of the American Institute of Motion Engineers. "The WMU exhibit will occupy the pavilion at the center of the convention and will be staffed daily by a crew of students who were involved in the projects."
An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend MotionExpo, a motion control applications and technology exhibition that is the only national trade show dedicated solely to precise motion control. It is sponsored by the American Institute of Motion Engineers and is being held in conjunction with the Society of Automotive Engineers' International Automotive Manufacturing Conference & Exhibition as well as the International Robots & Vision Show and Conference organized by the Robotics Industry Association of America.
Sunseeker 95 is one of the two WMU vehicles that will be shown at the event. The solar-powered car finished eighth in Sunrayce 95, a 1,150 cross-country collegiate race sponsored by General Motors, EDS and the U.S. Department of Energy. Sunseeker 95 has just returned from a promotional tour with race sponsors of this June's Sunrayce 97 competition route and will be part of another pre-race tour of the route just prior to the June 19-28 event.
This year's 1,200-mile Sunrayce runs from Indianapolis to Colorado Springs, Colo., and will feature solar cars from 40 colleges and universities across the nation. WMU's all-new solar car, Sunseeker 97, earned a 12th place starting spot in the race during its May 2-4 regional qualifying event at GM's Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich. To date, 24 of the 56 teams hoping to qualify for the event have earned starting slots.
The second WMU vehicle on display at MotionExpo is a Mini Baja race car that debuted last summer in the Society of Automotive Engineers' Midwest Mini Baja competition in Milwaukee. The object of the competition is to challenge students to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. In its first competitive appearance, the WMU team placed 23rd out of 82 entries and earned top-10 places in several categories.
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