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Student Team is Global Finalist in Valeo Innovation Challenge to Transform ‘Car of the Future’

April 17, 2014

Valeo -Innovation -Challenge -Group (Custom)

Innovation Challenge Finalists: The mechanical engineering student team chosen to be one of 20 global finalists for the Valeo Innovation Challenge include Hannah Bailey and (back row, from left) Wade Stallings, Aaron Jones, and David Johnston. (Photo by Dale Long)

Four exclamation points in an e-mail correspondence may best summarize the excitement of Rose-Hulman’s four-student team chosen to develop daring solutions to revolutionize automobiles in the Valeo Innovation Challenge.

The team was chosen to be one of the competition's 20 finalists, who come from 13 countries.

“This is a great honor and recognizes all the hard work that we put into our project proposal,” says team member Aaron Jones, a freshman mechanical engineering student from Champaign, Illinois.

Other students involved include Hannah Bailey, a sophomore mechanical engineering student from Lombard, Illinois; David Johnston, a junior mechanical engineering student from Federal Way, Washington; and Wade Stallings, a freshman mechanical engineering student from Indianapolis, Indiana.

“I love challenges,” admits Johnston, who is also involved with the Robotics Club and Formula SAE sprint car team. “This project will push us to explore new ideas. For me, engineering is innovation and I like being a part of the creative problem-solving process.”

Stallings added, “This is a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and learning new and interesting things.”

Nearly 1,000 teams from 55 countries sought a chance to play an active role in automotive innovation by designing the product or system that will create smarter, more intuitive cars by 2030. The challenge was launched in September 2013 and proposals were submitted in mid-February.

The Rose-Hulman team joins Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in representing the United States in the Valeo Innovation Challenge. Other finalists are from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, and Spain.

The students will spend the summer developing a working prototype of their project using funding appropriated to each team by Valeo. The plans must be submitted by August 29.

Rose-Hulman’s team objectives are aligned with the competition goals of creating a smart and connected vehicle that produces a cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable ride. Specific designs are kept confidential throughout the development process.

“We came up with some creative ideas. Now, we have to examine them more fully and try to implement them into a final prototype. That will be the challenge,” says Bailey, who is interested in automotive design. She was among six female students that attended the North American Auto Show earlier this year on a special invitation from the automotive industry, and will have an internship with Chrysler this summer.

Bailey is also a member of the Efficient Vehicles Team and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. Jones is a leader of the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs and planning committee for the 2014 TEDxRose-Hulman event. Stallings is a member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship men’s basketball team and student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Three team finalists will be selected to present their project at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, to a jury comprised of Valeo experts and outside partners, chaired by Valeo Chief Executive Officer Jacques Aschenbroich. The winning team will take home a 100,000 euros prize, and the second and third-place teams will each receive 10,000 euros.

Valeo is an automotive supplier and partner to automakers worldwide that proposes innovative products and systems contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions and development of intuitive driving. In 2013, for the second consecutive year, Valeo was featured in Thomson Reuters' Top 100 Global Innovators ranking, reflecting the group's commitment to innovation.