Sweet Briar professor T.C. Scott is part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Advanced Power Train Thermal team that developed a refrigerant-cooled charge air cooler for the 840 horsepower Dodge Demon supercharged Hemi engine. The innovative design won one of nine automotive 2017 top technology awards given by Popular Science magazine.
“Breathing fire into the Demon” is what the magazine calls the invention in its November/December 2017 issue: “It’s not the gas but the oxygen that goes boom in your engine; stuff more air into your cylinders, get more power. To achieve the SRT Demon’s crazy acceleration, Dodge’s necromancers of speed flow the breeze over what is essentially an air-conditioning compressor before the supercharger crams the air into its V-8. Colder air holds more oxygen, creating a bigger boom and, eventually, 840 glorious hell ponies.”
Scott, who teaches thermodynamic and fluid systems as a professor of practice at Sweet Briar, is a consultant with the advanced engineering teams at Chrysler. For this project, he developed the mathematical models that support the air cooler design. While Scott notes that the details of the process are proprietary, he says Chrysler’s team uses the laws of physics to calculate what is needed to accomplish the task of cooling the air and determine what size the devices need to be.
Working with suppliers on the design of the required parts, the team then tests it on a car at the high-speed racetrack and refines the design further.
Before joining Chrysler as a consultant in the mid-1980s, Scott was an engineer there from 1962 to 1975. He later taught engineering at the University of Virginia until 2010 and, in 2005, helped start the Margaret Jones Wyllie ’45 Engineering Program at Sweet Briar. Scott has been a critical part of the program ever since — and sometimes, his Sweet Briar colleagues are key to getting the job done at Chrysler.
This past summer, Scott enlisted the help of Hank Yochum, who directs the College’s engineering program, and Kaelyn Leake ’09, an assistant professor of engineering. Working from Sweet Briar’s mechatronics lab, Yochum and Leake designed and built a special fluid-flow sensor for Scott’s Chrysler team.
“Working on cutting-edge projects is a great way for faculty to contribute to an industrial partner, and it gives us additional insight as we provide a modern engineering experience to our students,” Leake says.
After all, applied engineering projects and partnerships with various industry sectors are vital elements of Sweet Briar’s engineering program. Students are required to complete at least one internship during their four years to gain hands-on experience in the field or in a research lab. They also work closely with industry partners on solutions to real-world problems during a yearlong senior capstone design seminar.
Thanks to Scott’s relationship with Fiat Chrysler, engineering students have the opportunity to gain insight into the day-to-day operations of the company. Once every two years, Scott takes a group of students on a tour of the Chrysler Tech Center in Detroit and has provided numerous internship opportunities for Sweet Briar students.