Mechanical Engineers Compete at Google Garage

Four senior mechanical engineering students were selected to participate in the Hack-a-Truck competition in Mountain View, California at the Google Garage sponsored by Shell.

google garage signOver a three-day weekend, the team of mechanical engineers paired with Cedarville University students to innovate the two areas of the food truck experience, focusing on the inside and outside of the truck. Teams were tasked with incorporating bright energy solutions to redesign the experience in aspects involving lighting, heating, waste production and handling, but most importantly, to make it fun, making the food truck experience as innovative and energy-efficient as possible.

“This was a rare treat for our students,” said Dr. Ken Aung, senior advisor of the students in their senior capstone course. Lamar University was one of only eight universities selected to compete. “Our students were able to face real-world issues under time constraints with limited resources,” says Aung. “This is exactly what it is like to be an engineer.” Students could not receive help from their advisors during the competition, but were mentored by Cameron Davies, owner and president of Cruising Kitchens, celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre, Jaime Moreno and Jose Luis Martin-Oar of Mormedi, a firm that excels in areas of service and digital design.

group of mechanical engineering students who participated at google garageLamar’s team consisted of Justin Amedee, Kamdon Weaver, Steven Do, and Andres Torres and was tasked with designing the inside of the food truck. “Going into the competition we were very excited but also very nervous,” says Amedee. “We weren’t sure how we would measure up to the other schools we would be competing against, but once we were settled in and started working, we realized that we were all in the same boat.”

“We initially wanted to create a potato-themed food truck but ran into obstacles with the cook time. Thanks to a suggestion from Lefebvre, we changed course to poutine, a traditional Canadian dish using french fries and cheese curds. We created a menu containing traditional (cheese curds and gravy), cheeseburger, chicken and gravy, and steak and egg poutine as well as a dessert option and named our truck “Routine Poutine,” says Amedee.

The team had most of Saturday to plan, design, and print a 3D model to prepare for judges on Sunday. Projects were judged on integration, innovation, creativity, and usability. “It was an amazing experience and a breath of fresh air being able to get out of the classroom and actually contribute to something that really matters,” says Amedee. The Lamar University and Cedarville University team did not walk away empty-handed. The team was awarded “Best Engineering Design” and “Best Energy Calculation” for their calculations and innovative approach when creating their food truck.