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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the ninth time in 10 contests, a University of Tennessee student engineering team is among the top teams in a national competition for alternative fuel vehicles.

 Dr. Jeff Hodgson, faculty adviser for the nine-member student teams, said UT-Knoxville took third place in the 1997 Propane Vehicle Challenge in Austin, Texas.

 Hodgson, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, said the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Texas A&M University were first and second, respectively.

 In 10 alternative fuel vehicle competitions since 1989, UT has won three and finished among the top four teams nine times, Hodgson said.

UT was less than 40 points from winning the latest competition and missed second place by only five points, out of 920 possible points, Hodgson said. UT finished almost 100 points ahead of the fourth place team, he said.

 “It was an extremely close race between the top three,” Hodgson said. “It could have very easily gone to any of the three.

 “Our students did an outstanding job overall, and continued their excellent performance in national competitions.”

 The UT vehicle, a Dodge Dakota pickup truck modified by students to run on propane, had the highest scores in fuel economy and handling, Hodgson said.

 Vehicles from 17 schools competed in 12 areas such as emissions, fuel economy and acceleration, he said. More than 300 students participated.

 The event is sponsored by Chrysler, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Railroad Commission of Texas, Natural Resources Canada, Texas Energy Conservation Office, Southwest Research Institute and Sea World of Texas.


 Contact: Dr. Jeff Hodgson (423-974-5294)