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Virginia Tech engineering team demonstrates hydrogen-powered SUV on Capitol Hill


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 15, 2004 – Members of the Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) were invited by U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Ford Motor Co. to Capitol Hill on March 24 for a demonstration of the team’s entry in FutureTruck 2004, a national competition sponsored by Ford and the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the Capitol Hill event, Bruce Billian of Berwyn, Pa., the HEVT leader and an electrical engineering graduate student, spoke about the team’s work in converting a Ford Explorer into a hydrogen-powered vehicle for FutureTruck 2004. The Virginia Tech team, which has competed in the annual competition since its inception in 2000, is one of only two teams adapting an Explorer’s internal combustion engine to run on hydrogen fuel instead of gasoline.

Accompanying Billian were Henning Lohse-Busch of Blacksburg, Va., a mechanical engineering graduate student; and five mechanical engineering seniors: Steven Boyd of Richmond, Va.; Corry Davis of Alexandria, Va.; Shane Osterbind of Chesterfield, Va.; Brian Southern of Hillsville, Va.; and Kevin West of Denver, N.C. Also on hand was Doug Nelson of Blacksburg, a professor of mechanical engineering and the HEVT faculty advisor.

Teams from six other universities — Ohio State, Penn State, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, University of Wisconsin-Madison and West Virginia University—also brought their competition vehicles to Capitol Hill.

Teams from 15 universities are competing in FutureTruck 2004. Each team is reengineering a Ford Explorer, donated by the automaker, to achieve lower emissions and at least 25 percent higher fuel economy, without sacrificing performance, utility or safety. The competition will take place June 9-17 at Ford's Michigan Proving Ground near Detroit.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.