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General Motors (GM) will present a check for $8,721 to Penn State's Challenge X team, which is designing and building a hybrid car, at the Pennsylvania Clean Energy Expo today.

Penn State's team will compete against 16 other North American universities this summer at the Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility competition at the GM Proving Grounds in Mesa, Ariz.

"We had to write a proposal to enter the competition," said Dan Haworth, the team's faculty supervisor and professor of mechanical engineering.

GM donated money to each accepted team, Haworth said. "The amount of money that was granted was calculated by GM and is intended to be enough to pay for transportation for crucial team members plus the vehicle to Arizona," said Ben Carlsen, team outreach coordinator, in an e-mail message.

Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility is a competition series created by the automotive industry, government and academic partners.

The competition challenges university-level engineering students to decrease total cycle emissions and energy consumption in a crossover vehicle, according to a Penn State press release.

At the same time, students have to maintain or exceed vehicle utility and performance. "It's a versatile parallel hybrid; its diesel engine can both turn the wheels directly and turn the electric generator that charges the vehicle's lithium-ion batteries," Carlsen said.

The vehicle burns a combination of biodiesel and hydrogen, Carlsen said.

"The PSU Challenge X team offers interested students the opportunity to participate in an intensive engineering challenge that patterns real-life product design and teaches real-world engineering and problem-solving skills," Carlsen said.

The competition is modeled after GM's global vehicle development process.

It will closely follow current automotive design and engineering practices.

"We give students the opportunity to design and build a hybrid electric vehicle," Haworth said.

"It's an educational thing. The product is the students, not the vehicle," he added.

Penn State's Challenge X team will be sharing a booth at the energy expo with a graduate teaching program, Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies.

In the program, participants travel to K-12 schools and work in science classrooms.

The display will include one of the team's hybrid-electric vehicles.

It will also demonstrate the technology used in this year's stock vehicle, a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox, Carlsen said.

"Visitors to our booth will have the opportunity to learn more about alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, the Challenge X competition and Penn State's vehicle engineering facilities," he said.

The expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Bryce Jordan Center. Admission is free.

"Vehicles similar to the ones that we're building here at PSU Challenge X are going to be in people's garages in the very near future," Carlsen said. "The expo offers a lot of possible solutions to the big social questions that will come with moving towards more environmentally and economically sustainable energy sources."

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