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Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) designs, engineers and manufactures advanced vehicles and powertrain components, primarily for research and educational purposes. Although officially founded in 1975 by Dr. Michael Seal, undergraduate students at Western Washington University have been building prototype vehicles since 1972. More than 45 vehicles have been built in addition to numerous engines and products for public and private organizations. The vehicles have set records in the Australian Outback, up Pike’s Peak, and around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Western Washington University will utilize the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE to help develop tomorrow’s vehicle designers, engineers and entrepreneurs. Students from across campus have formed a multi-disciplinary team to tackle the challenge. The team is developing a vehicle platform that can use a variety of powertrain options to meet regional market objectives for fuel efficiency, cost and reduced emissions. The vehicle structure uses composite materials to form large, lightweight structures to meet safety and weight targets while reducing manufacturing costs. A unique production process enables the team to produce parts with reduced cycle times. Front, side and roll-over protection is provided by large energy absorbing crumple zones and a strong safety cell for passengers.
The WWU X PRIZE team is comprised of three separate teams; The vehicle team, which is based in the VRI, consists of engineering students from vehicle design, plastics, composites, and manufacturing specializations, these students are doing all engineering, manufacturing, and testing of vehicle related portions of this project. The business team, which is comprised mainly of students from the business management department at WWU, is writing the professional business and marketing plans. There is also the Marketing/PR/Fundraising team, utilizing students from the communication and journalism departments, they work with the business team on the development of the marketing plan as well as developing an advertising and fundraising campaign.
The Progressive Automotive Insurance Competition is down to just 12 teams and 15 cars! This should prove to be an exciting race! And here they are: all the teams are nice and cozy in one building, it's a good thing we all get along! ... more »
Before it was even born, a lot of ideas were thrown about on what Viking 45 should look like. Here are some of the concept drawings from students in our very own Industrial Design program.V45 in one of it's earliest stages. Here we see students spending time over their winter break from school to assemble some of the lightweight carbon fiber panels to form the high strength monocoque chassis. ... more »
A little history behind the VRI at WWU:When Dr. Michael Seal, “Doc,” founded the Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) at Western Washington University in 1975, he had a simple goal: make cars that are lighter, faster, and more efficient in every way. Since then, over 40 vehicles have been designed and built by undergraduate students and faculty that do just that. As one of the leading schools for automotive design in the region, the WWU VRI has a long track record of excellence both in competition and in the media. The VRI has been awarded the ... more »