Louisiana Tech engineering and science students are putting the final touches on their designs for 2010 Shell Eco Marathon. Shell sponsors the event as a challenge to students to design and build the most fuel efficient vehicles possible.
This year’s event will be held in Houston, Texas, and students will race around the Discovery Green in downtown Houston. Shell officials report that 65 teams from North and South America have registered for the competition so far.
Last year, 500 students from 44 colleges and high schools in North and South America participated in the Shell Eco Marathon at the Fontana Speedway in Los Angeles, California. Tech’s team placed in the top twelve of the competition and was able to increase the fuel economy of their basic prototype car to 696.3 miles per gallon.
College of Engineering and Science Dean Stan Napper is very proud of the students’ hard work. “I am pleased that more students are involved this year and that the teams team’s camaraderie and professional friendship with their fellow competitors.”
According to the College of Engineering and Science, the event provides its students with hands-on experience in engineering and automotive design while enhancing their skills in science and math. The project also underscores the importance of teamwork and gives students experience in creating a business plan which they must follow.
The students who participate in this project do so as volunteers. They design, build, paint and test the car on their own time, usually in the evenings after class and on weekends. Often, when other students are at home enjoying quarter break, the Eco Car Team can be found in the basement of Bogard Hall working on the cars. The students manage every aspect of the design with faculty supervising closely.
The majority of the fundraising is also done by the students who ask parents, grandparents and friends to make donations to the project. The students leave the project with a strong sense of camaraderie and school spirit and the belief that they can accomplish a huge task from start to finish.
Tech’s eco-cars and their unique design, shape and capabilities have not only provided students with hands-on experience in their areas of study, but they have brought positive attention to the university and the College of Engineering and Science. In fact, Shell is using one of Tech’s vehicles, the red urban design, as the image on its world-wide poster for this year’s marathon, and Dr. Heath Tims, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been asked to serve on Shell’s steering committee for the event this year.
During the 2009 Christmas season, First National Bank of Ruston used the team’s red urban car as ‘Santa’s sleigh’ for their float in the Ruston Christmas parade, and Sci-Port in Shreveport has asked to display the cars during a science expo they hold each year.
The team will begin road testing the cars in the next few days. They leave for Houston March 24.