The freshly-painted Tiger Truck sits in the engineering workshop on LSU’s Campus.
The capstone engineering class at LSU is a rite of passage into the “real-world” of engineering. To pass the two-semester class, students complete a final project and a group of 12 chose to rebuild a fire truck to run off of renewable energy.
The group thought of the idea almost two years ago, said co-leader Blake Andermann. “We got to talking about senior project. We wanted to do something that stands out from the crowd…not something that’s been done before, something that’s unique,” he said.
Plans for the unique project began in the fall and–after a donation from a Louisiana Fire Department in the form of a fire truck, and after the team raised over $50,000 in sponsorships –the Tiger Truck became a reality. The team completed floor plans in December, began rebuilding the fire truck in January, and completed the final project on Earth Day.
Formally, the Tiger Truck is a mobile biodiesel demonstrator with an environmentally friendly campaign because the process of renewing energy is displayed on board the truck.
Scotty Verret, co-leader and team contact for the Tiger Truck team, said the team had a Go-Green initiative. “Most of us have jobs in the oil field after we graduate…we wanted to show people that south Louisiana people aren’t just about the oil field, that we care about the environment,” he said.
The team chose a fire truck because of its massive size and crowd appeal, according to thetigertruck.com. The Web site said the objective of the truck “allows the public to enjoy renewable energy, not only from a distance, but also with hands-on mechanisms and demonstrations.”
The truck employs the five fascists of engineering: electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, and biological. “[The Tiger Truck] is all this in one neat little bundle,” Verret said. Both mechanical and biological engineers made up the team of twelve.
Verret said this fire truck is a culmination of everything the team has learned in their college engineering courses. “It shows how well we can take a concept or an idea, do the calculations, do the engineering, and make a final product,” said Verret.
The Tiger Truck is environmentally friendly because its engine runs on biodiesel, which emits fewer pollutants in the air. Biodiesel is a “domestic, renewable fuel for diesel engines derived from natural oils like soybean oil,” according to biodiesel.org. The team chose vegetable oil as the biodiesel.
The Tiger Truck’s engine runs on food oil. In a demonstration, food is first fried in the fryers on board the truck in the vegetable oil. Then, this waste vegetable oil is pumped into processors that convert the waste oil into biodiesel. This conversion is the most important aspect of the team’s work.
“Biodiesel usually takes quite some time to process…usually a 24 hour to a 36 hour process,” said Andermann. The team created an electrostatic separator in the processors to shock the biodiesel with 5,000 volts of energy to speed up this conversion process. “It’ll look like a lava lamp,” Andermann said, when referring to the food oil as it becomes biodiesel.
This energy-shocked biodiesel is then pumped into the fuel tank, which runs the engine of the fire truck.
Verret said the completion of the truck is a noteworthy accomplishment for the university. “Students at LSU should be very proud that they have people here that can do this,” he said.
The first demonstration of the Tiger Truck was cancelled along with the rest of LSU Day. The truck’s debut will occur in the fall on LSU Day’s rescheduled date. Verret said the team still plans to celebrate with a crawfish boil.
Proudly looking at the finished product of the Tiger Truck, Andermann said, “when you have passion and determination, I mean, this is what happens.”
The countless hours of hard work and late nights were well worth the end result, said Andermann. The team usually worked in the workshop until 3 A.M. several days a week. Andermann said delirious dance parties and laughter were a commonality in the engineering workshop during late nights.
How It Works…
The Tiger Truck in Motion!
After all of the team’s hard work, here is the truck in motion! Here, the team is taking the truck to a demonstration at Technology Days in downtown Baton Rouge.
The 2010 Census and the College Student
April 1 is the 2010 Census day, and every college student in Baton Rouge, including LSU, needs to fill out a census form. Not only is it legally required, but college students could see benefits in the form of public services if they fill it out.
“College students are very important to the count,” said Andrea Loyola, Media Specialist for the US Census Bureau. College students make up over 20 percent of the Baton Rouge population, according to figures from the US Census Bureau, and Loyola says students should be counted where they live and sleep the most as of April 1st.
The US government conducts the national headcount for two reasons. First, the headcount ensures each state is accurately represented in the US House of Representatives. Second, the government allocates about $400 billion each year towards community services, like infrastructure, grants, and public roads. This headcount ensures the money is going where it is needed most.
“The more people and college students that fill out the census, the better chance we have of getting funding for the Baton Rouge area,” said Erica Fisher, member of the repreCensus campaign on LSU’s campus. Fisher says LSU students can see benefits from the census in the form of tuition loans and public transportation.
Governor Jindal says the count is crucial to our capital city because of a recent surge in population. “You’ve got a rapidly growing part of our state right here in the greater Baton Rouge area. So it’s important that our students and all of our residents be counted,” said Jindal.
For quick facts on population and geography of Louisiana, click here.
To keep track on Twitter, click Follow the 2010 Census on Twitter.
Now, Be Honest…
How To Fill Out a Census at LSU- On or Off Campus
Andrea Loyola, a Media Specialist for the Census Bureau, gives instructions on how and where LSU students should fill out their census form.
The Catchy Tune
Louisiana Census Bureau Offices
Here is a link to a map of the Census Bureau’s in Louisiana. The 2010 Census not only provided over 1.4 million jobs nationally, but also provided nearly 20,000 jobs in Louisiana, according to 2010census.gov.
The Stages of the 2010 Census
Pilots for Patients Takes Flight
Some flights out of Louisiana airports carry priceless cargo, thanks to an organization called Pilots for Patients.
Pilots for Patients, based out of Monroe, LA, provides air transportation to individuals for medical purposes. A group of about 70 professional pilots donate their personal plane, time, and fuel to fly medical patients. This eliminates the “burden of travel,” according to the mission statement.
Pilots can fly within a 350 mile radius of the Louisiana airport (for a complete list of Louisiana airports, see the Google Map below) to get the medical help the patient requires. This service costs nothing for the patient or their family.
H.M. Butler, Board of Directors member, said the non-profit organization mainly transports those with cancer, cerebral pausie, and kidney failure. The patients can range from six months old to 99 years old.
Even though the charity is only about two years old, Pilots for Patients recently celebrated its 500th mission by flying 15-year-old Christian Billingsley to Texas Christian Hospital for dialysis treatment. Christian has a rare form of kidney failure called Atypical-HUS, and he has required critical medical attention since he was three months old. His parents, Gene and Aida, said Pilots for Patients is a tremendous help to the Billingsley family.
Phillip Coyne, the pilot for the 500th mission, has been flying professionally for about twenty years and he said Pilots for Patients allows him to give back to the community.
“My absolute hope for not only Christian, but also the other kids and the adults that have flown, is that they all recover and are blessed every day,” said Coyne.
To meet Christian and see him celebrate the 500th mission with the pilots, the Board of Directors, and his father, click here.