PHOTOS: 2017 Shell Eco-Marathon & Make the Future Festival — Part Three

AmericaJR’s Jason Rzucidlo was LIVE at Cobo Center for the 2017 Shell Eco-Marathon. More than 100 student vehicle teams from across the country have descended on Detroit. They are here to show off their ultra-fuel efficient vehicles that they designed, built and of course, race them! There are two vehicle classes to choose from: prototype and urban concept. Three energy sources are available: battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell or internal combustion which includes compressed natural gas. Teams must complete 10 laps or 6 miles with an average speed of 15 mph.

Université Laval Earns 4th Win At Annual Shell Eco-Marathon Americas Event

DETROIT — Perennial winner Université Laval of Quebec conquered the 11th annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition over the weekend in Detroit for the fourth time and the second year in a row, recording 2713.1 miles per gallon with its ultra-energy-efficient gasoline powered prototype vehicle. The top performing UrbanConcept Americas teams earned the right to compete in the Shell Drivers’ World Championship Regional Final – a competition for the best UrbanConcept category teams to find out who is the fastest energy-efficient driver. The three regional winners will compete amongst winning teams from Asia and Europe, later this month in London, in the Drivers’ World Championship Grand Final.

In winning the overall competition, Université Laval defeated 114 other rivals vying to see whose vehicle could travel the farthest distance on the equivalent of a gallon of gas. Runners-up were Brigham Young University (Utah) and Mater Dei High School (Indiana).

Saint Thomas Academy was joined by Alden-Conger High School and Newburgh Free Academy rounding out the podium places in the Drivers’ World Championship Regional Final in Detroit. They will now prepare to compete for the Drivers’ World Championship Title and earn a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the home of Scuderia Ferrari.

Shell Eco-marathon General Manager Norman Koch noted, “Drivers’ World Championship marries the incredible engineering we see year after year in the Shell Eco-marathon mileage challenge. Our first regional event in Singapore in March showed how passionate students are about this race for fuel efficiency and that continued in Detroit.”

Winners of the 10 Categories

Student teams compete in two vehicle classes at the event. The Prototype class invites students to enter futuristic, streamlined vehicles, and the UrbanConcept class focuses on “roadworthy,” fuel-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers. Entries are divided by into three energy categories:

  • Internal combustion: gasoline, diesel, liquid fuel made from natural gas (GTL), compressed natural gas (CNG), and ethanol
  • Hydrogen fuel cell
  • Battery electric

The Detroit winners in each class follow, based on vehicle class and energy category:

  • Prototype internal combustion: Alérion Supermileage team, Université Laval of Quebec, 2,585 mpg.
  • Prototype battery electric: Duke Electric Vehicles, Duke University of Durham, North Carolina, 295.7 m/kWh.
  • Prototype hydrogen fuel cell: Wheat Ridge Tech, Wheat Ridge High School of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, 110.9 m/kWh.
  • UrbanConcept internal combustion: Mater Dei Supermileage Team, Mater Dei High School of Indiana, 723.4 mpg.
  • UrbanConcept battery electric: Saint Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team, Saint Thomas Academy of Minnesotta, 50.4 mi/kWh.

Teams also won prizes for their work off-track, in the following categories:

  • Communications Award: Supermileage uOttawa, The University of Ottawa (Canada). The Supermileage uOttawa team invested a lot of time and effort to promote their team. In addition to leveraging traditional media and local events to connect with their community, the team shared social media content in both English and French to reach a wider audience. More impressively, they were able to identify their shortfalls and had already developed an improvement plan for next year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
  • Vehicle Design Award UrbanConcept: EcoCar – Turbo Hound, Louisiana Tech University (Louisiana). The team’s Urban Concept car was designed using a strong and lightweight monocoque design that had the fit and finish like many production cars on the road today. The vehicle features driver comfort and safety, and includes a luggage compartment. It was clear that the team had paid great attention to using eco-friendly materials, minimizing usage of carbon fiber and re-using scrap and wasted materials.
  • Vehicle Design Award Prototype: OSU Beavers, Oregon State University (Oregon). The team designed their prototype vehicle around their driver, accounting for available space, ease of exit and visibility, and overcame these challenges to design a very high performance vehicle. They had clear efficiency goals in mind and achieved significant improvements in weight, stiffness and overall performance over their previous vehicle. Additionally, their design did a great job of integrating aesthetics with high efficiency and the ability to operate on current road conditions while taking into consideration the impact of potholes and slopes.
  • Technical Innovation: Supermileage Systems Enterprise, Michigan Technological University (Michigan). The team followed a logical engineering process where they identified a clear objective and worked within design constraints to deliver a flexible electric motor driver.
  • Safety Award: Team Shop Girls, Granite Falls High School (Washington State). The team made it a priority to incorporate safety in both their vehicle design and the team’s daily activities in the paddocks. Having a proactive safety mindset placed them in an excellent position to continue to avoid hazards and reduce safety risks. In fact, the team displayed safety supplies out in the open with safety signs in sight, and they made judges put on safety glasses before entering their paddock.
  • Perseverance and Spirit of the Event Award: MC3 Engineering, Montgomery Community College (Pennsylvania). Despite their vehicle breaking down and working endless hours to fix it, the team stayed positive and found time to interact with other teams, both offering help and asking for support. The team also brought onboard a new driver with limited knowledge on short notice who offered new insights to improve the process.

Female Talent on the Rise

Shell Eco-marathon Americas continues to draw a growing number of female participants and team leaders among both high school and university teams. This year, more than 50 female drivers competed with 40 reserve drivers, and 16 team captains were female. Recognized female teams included:

  • Granite Falls, Shopgirls Team – Heather Holmes: Prototype/Diesel team leader
  • Granite Falls – Kelsey Green: UrbanConcept/Diesel team leader
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – Ishi Keenum: Prototype/Battery Electric team leaderThirty percent of the team are females and hold leadership positions
  • James B. Dudley High School – Joanna Ziegler: UrbanConcept/GTL team leader

“I am proud to see these young women break barriers and showcase their leadership skills beyond the competition,” said Lori Harvey, manager, STEM educational outreach and CSR programs, Hitachi. “I was pleased to learn during my time at the event that many of them serve as mentors and role models for younger girls in their communities, and this is exactly what will set us on the path to inspiring more female engineering talent.”

Once Mater Dei High School senior Grace Cox graduates next month, she will head to Toyota Indiana for the summer to participate in a co-op program designed to develop skills for full-time engineering students at four-year colleges or universities. The program will allow her to receive paid practical hands-on experience working alongside Toyota engineers, as well as mentorship opportunities.

Source: Shell Eco-Marathon

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