Record-breaking BYU electric car featured on cover of Popular Science

Published: Wednesday, April 18 2012 9:47 p.m. MDT

Dr. Perry Carter, Kelly Hales and Trey Mortensen pose with copies of Popular Science that features BYU's streamliner.

BYU Photo, Jaren Wilkey

Across seven years, more than 130 Brigham Young University students worked together on a single project.

All their hard work paid off.

Last year their student-built electric car, dubbed "Electric Blue," set a world record for its weight class, averaging 155.8 mph in two runs and hitting 175 mph at one point.

The feat was something Trey Mortensen, a junior at BYU who is studying mechanical engineering, said felt like Christmas morning.

"Our group was cheering and we were all ecstatic," Mortensen said.

The fun hasn't stopped there.

The group can cheer once more because it has hit another first — this time in the BYU record books.

The group has been featured as the cover story for the April issue of Popular Science.

It's believed to be the first time any group from BYU has made the cover of the prestigious magazine.

"From what I've sensed it was quite an honor," said Perry Carter, the professor who led the project. "I've had emails from several students across the country going back to 2004. ... They saw the car on Popular Science and were pretty exciting about it."

Not only did the cover show the car in motion, but the inside pages also showed a drawing of the car with a detailed description of its unique makeup and parts.

"Accomplishing the feat required far greater attention to aerodynamics, power transfer and other engineering features that keep the car stable," the magazine wrote. "The student-built, elongated-teardrop-shaped Electric Blue, which belongs to a class of vehicles called streamliners, was in development for seven years and could reach the 200-mph mark by the end of this year."

Carter said Popular Science magazine looks for subjects that are interesting to a wide variety of audiences. He believes the car fit that description, and he added he believes the vehicle "is just beautiful."

Students from many majors, including manufacturing engineering technology and mechanical engineering, worked on the car. Carter said 18 students worked on the outer design, which proved to be a selling point.

The car, or streamliner, is included in the "E1" class, which is designated specifically for cars less than 1,100 pounds. It is long and slender, with a lightweight carbon fiber body. The wheels are enclosed to lower air resistance.

Electric Blue also relies on an electric battery, which makes it a challenge to qualify for a smaller weight class like BYU did. Because of this difficulty, there were previously only unofficial speed records — the highest set at 130 mph.

Now, though, the record belongs to Carter and his students.

Email: tackerman@desnews.com

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