The Ragin’ Rougarou, a shoebox-size car designed and built by a team of UL engineering students, earned first place in a regional competition that drew over 500 students from 20 universities in the southeast United States.

It’s the first time a University of Louisiana team has earned the top spot in the regional contest, which is held each year by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The competition challenges collegiate teams to build vehicles powered by a chemical energy source. A vehicle must safely carry a specified load over a given distance before a chemical reaction is used to stop its motion. Teams learn how much their entries must carry, and how far they must travel, at the start of the competition.

A vehicle’s performance is judged by how close it gets to the correct distance and for creativity.

The victory at the 2015 AIChE Southern Regional Conference, held in Clearwater Beach, Fla., April 10-11, advanced the Ragin’ Rougarou to the AlChE national competition to be held in Salt Lake City in November.

“We are very proud of our students,” said Dr. William M. Chirdon, an associate professor of chemical engineering and AlChE faculty advisor at the University.

The UL team is composed of five seniors, Timothy Boudreaux, captain; Lawrence Manuel, co-captain; Patrick Spiller; Ryan Benoit; and Eric Regel; and five juniors, Marissa Templet; Katie Border; Morganna Ochoa; Ben ElDerragi; and Yazid Basouki.

They competed against students from Auburn, Clemson, Florida Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, North Carolina State University and other universities.

The Ragin’ Rougarou is powered by a custom-built lead acid battery. It’s stopped by an iodine clock reaction. According to the team’s description of the stopping mechanism, the vehicle moves as long as a liquid solution used to power it is clear; when that solution turns black, the vehicle stops.

Sponsors for the Ragin’ Rougarou include Cimation, Chevron, many University of Louisiana alumni, and the Department of Chemical Engineering.