The Experimental Vehicles Program (EVP) was created in 2004 as an umbrella program for five different undergraduate experimental vehicle design teams. These projects consist of the Solar Vehicle, Moonbuggy, Baja SAE, Formula SAE, and Solar Boat. The goal of the EVP is to foster undergraduate student development through hands-on construction of experimental vehicles with the guidance of faculty mentors and partnerships with both national and international industry leaders.
Each EVP project performs a vital function in the professional development of students. The projects provide a forgiving environment in which students can test their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting and learn important skills such as leadership, effective communication, and working as a team member. Furthermore, the students in the EVP develop highly versatile and qualified skill sets that will allow them to fill various positions within the workplace. In the past 90% of EVP graduates have been able to obtain highly regarded national and international positions upon graduation due to their real-world hands-on experience gained throughout their involvement in the EVP. Each year the EVP sponsors up to sixty interdisciplinary students that come together in peer-led teams to combine and expand upon their classroom knowledge in building innovative vehicles. The successes of the MTSU EVP have been recognized by becoming the national model for hands-on engineering education; helping engineering students take classroom knowledge and apply it to real-world situations. Students work in teams to annually design, construct, and test novel vehicle designs for participation in national and international competitions. Due to the competitive nature of each of the events, students must use cutting edge technology and design methods in order to create the best entries possible. Often times this means creating partnerships with industry leaders who help mentor the students from the design conception, the fabrication, through the manufacturing of each vehicle. These partnerships benefit both the students and the companies; students are able to create real-world contacts and gain a working knowledge of the industry that they cannot learn in the classroom. Furthermore, the students are able to use the contacts to garner equipment like solar panels and wheels. Likewise, the companies are able to receive recognition at national and international competition as program sponsors are advertised on the competition vehicles. Moreover the industries are able to build relationships with future employees who have real-world experience and who have become intimately involved with specialized technology such as “green energy”.