One of the most interesting competitions that I have been able to be a part of was the Challege X competition here at UT-Austin. Sponsored by General Motors, the Department of Energy, and Argonne National Labratories, this competition consists of GM donating a Chevy Equinox to the teams involved, which hail from universities all over the United States. The competition itself is a competition to make any changes to the Equinox to improve the fuel economy and emissions standards, while still maintaining the level of performance of the car.
The team here at UT is going with a hybrid diesel engine with a belt-alternator-starter (BAS) system as one of its key hybrid components. This competition gives students the ability to understand what actually goes into designing a vehicle and make it from the drawing board to the road. Of course, all of the intellectual property generated from the competition becomes the property of General Motors, but such a competition with guidance from engineers at General Motors is invaluable experience that only a few have been able to attain while in school.