COES students return to Houston for Shell Eco-marathon

Mar 6, 2013 | Engineering and Science

A team of students from Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science will join more than 1,000 high school and college students from across North America at the seventh annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas. The event, to be held in Houston, Texas, April 4-7, challenges students to build, design and compete with their high-mileage vehicles in competitions that are held annually in Europe, the Americas and Asia.  During the event, students and their fuel-efficient vehicles will navigate the streets of downtown Houston for a shot at cash prizes and to earn prestige for their schools. However, the students at Louisiana Tech have an even bigger goal.  They hope to beat their own records, which were set during the last two Eco-marathon Americas competitions.  In 2011, their Urban Concept vehicle, “Roadster,” set a new U.S. record of 646.7 mpg.  The team also won first place for overall design and safety that year.  Last year, the team won the design award, the award for most miles in the diesel category and the team spirit award.

Louisiana Tech’s first-place and record setting ‘Roadster’

“The team is excited to defend their past titles as well as introduce a new vehicle to the competition this year,” said Dr. Heath Tims, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and one of the faculty advisers for the team.  Tims also serves on the Shell Eco-marathon Americas’ national steering committee. The Tech students, who come from many different academic degree programs, participate in the project as volunteers and do not get class credit.  They design, build, paint and test the cars on their own time, usually in the evenings, after class and on weekends.  They also assist with fundraising and publicity.  While employing skills they learn in the classroom, these students are also developing leadership and project management skills that will serve them throughout their careers. This year’s event will again be held in downtown Houston where teams will race on a track built around the city’s Discovery Green.  Shell has introduced a new prize category for this year’s event called the “Global Energy Challenge: A Look to the Future.”  The goal is to encourage the world’s next generation of engineers and scientists to consider new, sustainable ways to meet the rising demand for energy. Cash prizes will also be awarded for Eco Design, Safety, Technical Innovation and Best Team Spirit. The team will be profiled in a video that will be posted on the Shell Eco-marathon website at the end of March. Written by Catherine Fraser –