Daily Update 5/25/1999

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Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Torrington, CT Display, Pittsfield, MA Display, and New Lebanon, NY- Lebanon Valley Dragway

Team NJ awoke to clear blue skies and sun today! At Torrington High School, our display booth was bustling with eager high school students yearning to gain information about our hybrid vehicle. Professor Jack Braun (NJIT-BCC) noted, "when parents and children came to the display booth together, there seemed to be more interest in the technology of the NJ Venturer than if the children came themselves. This was significant in Torrington." The Torrington High School band provided a beautiful touch by playing music for the crowd. There was a Start Ceremony as the vehicles were preparing to begin the first half of the third leg of the tour. Dr. Robert Wills, Technical Co-Director, NESEA Tour; Partner, Advanced Energy Systems, was present during the ceremony to wish the drivers well.

We arrived in Pittsfield, MA at the Town Common while the Jr. Solar Sprint (JSS) Center for Ecological Technology was underway. Upon our arrival, Len Bean of WBRK, a local radio station approached Patrick Szary (Rutgers-CAIT) and interviewed him about the NJ Venturer. Our display was once again the largest as well as one of the main attractions. As soon as the vehicle arrived to our booth, many children and adults converged wanting to know more about our vehicle.

Michael Strizki (NJDOT), Team NJ’s Captain was there to greet Steve Scoville, an NBC (Channel 13-NY) news reporter.  Mike presented the NJ Venturer vehicle to Mr. Scoville, and he explained that, "most vehicles run on fossil fuel but not the NJ Venturer. This vehicle produces zero emissions and obviously this is as low as any vehicle can get. All major manufacturers will use fuel cells by 2003." He also noted that, "vehicles that use fuel cells have the driveability of a regular vehicle." A number of children gathered around Mike, helping to amplify Team NJ spirit for the people at home when this segment will air (Wednesday, May 26, 1999).

NESEA volunteer, Darcy Baiocco-Shulman (NJIT-Mt. Laurel). Darcy walked groups of children around giving them tours of each of the vehicles encircling the Town Common’s open grassy field.

Before the windy downpour in the middle of the afternoon, Linda Cerkvenik (Rutgers-CAIT) spoke with Nancy Hazard, Director, NESEA Tour. She commented on the success of the event so far. "Everyone who started out yesterday made it to the finish line. It is significant because it is the first time this has ever occurred and it reflects the reliability of the electric vehicle and how far the technology has come. It is wonderful seeing not only the quality in major manufacturers but also in the student vehicles. The components, electronics, and battery are so much more advanced than ten years ago. Seeing the technological advancement here is great."

Tom Thompson, Executive Director of NESEA, commented on the first half of the third leg of the trip, travelling from Torrington to Pittsfield., "It was very impressive that the vehicles were able to make it over the hilly terrain. Also, Pittsfield is in the center of an environmental situation with General Electric and by hosting this event it shows their commitment to sustainability. Furthermore, he made note that, "its all about the children, introducing them to new technology. It was great seeing their participation in the Jr. Solar Sprint today."

Team NJ decided to tow the NJ Venturer from Pittsfield to the Lebanon Valley Dragway in New Lebanon because there was no benefit to either driving it or towing it. This leg of the tour was not timed, so there were no penalties to worry about. The vehicles then began the second half of the third leg of the tour as they made their way to New Lebanon, NY.

In New Lebanon, Team NJ attended an Appreciation of Everyone dinner at the Italian American Club in Pittsfield, MA sponsored by NESEA. Everyone highly enjoyed the beautiful view overlooking the lake.

During the technical meeting in the evening, our strategies during the tour were discussed. Lyle Rawlings (FIRST, Inc.) commented on a problem we were experiencing. "The vehicle was to be prepare for the drag race Wednesday morning at the Lebanon Valley Dragway, when Team NJ discovered a problem with the vehicle’s power train late in the evening and scrambled to find the technical experts to work on it. The result was a frantic effort into the wee hours of the morning to fix the problem and catch a few hours of sleep before the early start of the drag race." The vehicle is now fully repaired and ready to race here in New Lebanon and then trek over to Albany NY. As with any prototype problems are expected. It is a common occurrence that teams may have to work all night just to insure that they can run their vehicles the next day. As with anything new the bugs have to be worked out, and the Tour de Sol is the perfect place to check and test our design. Please check back tomorrow and keep following along with us on the 1999 NESEA Tour de Sol.  Please check back tomorrow and keep following along with us on the 1999 NESEA Tour de Sol.

Please send comments and suggestions to szary@civeng.rutgers.edu.