Students provide brains, brawn behind project teams

Posted: May 12, 2011

img_1349.jpg
At Ohio State, student project teams are much more than a fun way to spend leisure time outside the classroom; they serve as real-life labs where students put their engineering skills to the test to solve important challenges from designing solar power homes to advancing electric vehicles. The College of Engineering boasts more than two dozen student project teams, from Solar Decathlon to the Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Team to the Underwater Robotics Team.

Many electrical and computer engineering students thrive during their project team experiences, including Austin Krohn, a junior electrical and computer engineering student who is beginning his second year as part of the Ohio State Buckeye Bullet Team.

The Buckeye Bullet won international acclaim last August when professional driver Roger Schroer guided the student-designed and -built Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5 to an average two-way speed of 307.7 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The car eclipsed the previous 245 mph world land speed record for battery electric vehicles, and the new record was certified by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the worldwide motor sports governing body.

Krohn loves the work he does with the Buckeye Bullet team so much, that he decided to do a motor sports project next year as part of his senior project.

“I started working with the Bullet because of the allure that electric powered vehicles have for me,” said Krohn.

Student project teams provide students with the opportunity to use existing skills and learn new ones, gain resume-building experience and meet new people.

“Recently I've been involved in a lot of battery testing for the next iteration of the Bullet, the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3,“ explained Krohn. “We have been testing to verify that by the end of a race our batteries will have appropriate voltages to protect our inverter from what will be the motor’s back electromotive force. This is important because of electric motors’ properties that allow them to act as generators. Forcing current from the motor through the inverter would be a costly mistake that we cannot afford to make.”

Krohn’s experience with the Bullet has also paid off in a very personal way.

“This is truly the type of project where the more you put into it the more you get out," said Krohn. "Some of the work I've done with the Bullet is almost exclusively the reason I got offered my summer internship position. I will be working to design renewable energy harnessing systems for an energy startup company in Brooklyn, New York. This is more than I could ask for because I love the idea of green and renewable energies.

The Buckeye Bullet Team is always ready to welcome more engineers. Mechanically inclined electrical engineers make great additions, but any interested student who is ready to learn and work with the team, regardless of skill level, is welcome. Contact Austin Krohn at krohn.28@osu.edu to get involved.

ECE students: Do you have a student project or internship experience to share? We'd love to hear it and possibly feature your story in an ECE publication. Submit your story to clevenger.87@osu.edu.

Picture caption: Austin Krohn disassembles the battery pack from Buckeye Bullet 2.5 in order to get to the battery management circuitry located on each of the 21 modules that make up The pack. This intermediate work needed to be completed in order for the team to accurately model the power system intelligence in CAD.

Category: Students