Media Coverage


Western's Baja SAE team finishes 10th at nationals

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Western Washington University’s Baja SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Viking 49 team placed 10th overall out of a field of 66 university teams at the Baja SAE national competition in Portland, Ore., earlier this month.

The Baja SAE competition challenges engineering students to design and build an off-road vehicle that will survive the severe punishment of rough terrain. The competition provides a challenging project that involves the planning and manufacturing tasks found when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market; teams compete against one another to have their design accepted for manufacture by a fictitious firm. Students must function as a team to not only design, build, test, promote, and race a vehicle within the limits of the rules, but also to generate financial support for their project and manage their educational more...


WWU's Vehicle Research Institute Awarded $500,000 Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy
September 3, 2009

Contact: John Thompson, Office of University Communications (360) 650-3500.

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BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand its Biomethane for Transportation project, turning dairy waste into clean-burning biomethane.

Part of the project’s funding will go toward placing new engines in three buses used by Bellingham’s Bellair Charters; these buses will be converted from diesel fuel to biomethane with engines from Northwest Cummins and will produce 23 times less carbon dioxide than they did more...

WWU Baja SAE Team Wins 5th Place at West Coast Competition
June 4, 2009

Contacts: Drew Thayer, WWU Baja SAE team leader, (360) 961-0794 or

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BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute Baja SAE team placed 5th overall at the Baja SAE Oregon competition on May 7-10.

Baja SAE is an intercollegiate competition put on by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and is designed to simulate a real-world engineering design challenge. Student teams from each competing college construct, drive and maintain one small off-road car to compete in various more...

Alternative-Fuel Cars to be Showcased at WWU June 2
May 22, 2009

Contact: Eric Leonhardt, WWU Vehicle Research Institute, (360) 650-3045 or

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BELLINGHAM - Students and faculty at the Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) are assisting in the organization of a stop of the Hydrogen Road Tourfrom 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2 in WWU's Red Square.

Up to 12 alternative fuel vehicles, most powered by hydrogen fuel cells, will be displayed in Red Square along with additional vehicles built by the VRI that run on a variety of fuel sources including biomethane, natural gas and solar more...


WWU vehicle institute lauded
September 29th, 2007

Kira Millage
The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM - Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute was recently honored for its work creating a vehicle powered by biomethane from cow manure.

The institute received a 2007 Brilliant Award in the "Brilliant Innovations: Waste to Energy" category. The awards were created to honor ideas and solutions that are environmentally friendly and generate economic value.

Federal Way drives toward environmentally-friendly goal
September 21st, 2007

Jacinda Howard
Federal Way Mirror

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Electric and hybrid-powered vehicles were available for a test drive Sept. 19 at the Clean Vehicles Now! conference in Seattle. Hybrid vehicles used as part of King County's fleet, as well as electric vehicles, new to the market, were displayed.

Participants took a break from discussions about alternative fuel sources Sept. 19 at Qwest Field in Seattle to zip around a cone-lined track in futuristic-looking more...


Cool cars and new fuels to run them
May 31st, 2006

Kristi Heim
The Seattle Times

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Technologies focused on transportation and alternative energy are getting a lot of attention this week. Today, a two-day conference co-sponsored by Microsoft and the Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center for Regional Development gets started with a curious mix of people and topics, including border security, hybrid cars and biodiesel fuel. Speakers include Martin Tobias, former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Slade Gorton, Maria Cantwell and Adam more...


Inventing a lean green machine
September 27th, 2004

Kristi Heim
The Seattle Times

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Eric Leonhardt knows how many cows there are in Whatcom County (66,000). But it's not the cows that interest him; it's the manure Leonhardt, director of the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University in Bellingham, looks at cow pies and sees miles of pollution-free driving.

He wants to transform manure into "biogas," methane that fuels a hybrid vehicle running on compressed natural more...

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