How Far Can It Go?

High school and college teams from around the world come to Houston in a challenge to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles. The event takes place this weekend at Discovery Green downtown. Pat Hernandez has a preview.

It’s called the Shell Eco Marathon, a global event that takes place in Asia, Europe, and for the second year in a row, downtown Houston. In short, contestants find increasingly innovative ways to squeeze more out of a tank of energy.
Marvin Odum is president of Shell Oil Company. He says contestants are presented with a challenge.

“How many miles of transport can we get out of a gallon of fuel, so to speak? Now, you can use all different types of fuel and power sources, and using these students to bring real innovation and new thinking into that realm.”

Contestants compete in three vehicle classes: the prototype — focusing on aerodynamics for extreme efficiency, and urban concept, which include practical features like luggage space, and vehicles powered by plug-in battery energy
sources. Odum says he’s impressed with the entries.

“Not only the way these young minds think, but it’s an opportunity for us to try to engage them in this kind of thinking math and science in particular, and try to draw them into that area as a profession.”

This is the third year of competing for Kevin Peters, a senior at Louisiana Tech.

LA Tech students examine their entry the Tech Roadster
LA Tech students examine their entry the Tech Roadster

“You’ll see a steering system that someone comes up with, and you’re just like ‘Wow, that’s innovative. I never would have thought of that.’ You get to pick the brains of 60 different universities and schools, and it’s kind of a neat experience.”

His team has two entries, one called the tech roadster, which Peters is proud of.

“It’s the lighest. It’s the fastest. It’s the most fuel efficient that we’ve made in this category, and it’s also the one that turns the most heads when you look at it. I mean, it’s sleek. It’s shiny and it’s well designed.”

Last year’s winning entry from Canada, had fuel mileage of over 27 hundred miles per gallon of gasoline. More information on the event can be found at Shell Eco-marathon® Americas .