UH, Rice compete in Shell Eco-Marathon

UH, Rice compete in Shell Eco-Marathon
April 05, 2012 | posted by The Institute

Source: chron.com

Ninety-nine teams and 118 vehicles from the U.S, Mexico, Canada and Brazil participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon this weekend at Discovery Green in downtown, a challenge encouraging students to design and build energy-efficient vehicles.

Students from the University of Houston meticulously put finishing touches on their hydrogen fuel cell car Sunday afternoon, tinkering with metal parts that would be unrecognizable to most.

A hydrogen tank in the back of the vehicle connected intricately to wires and other parts, a design the students hoped would work according to plan.

"I'm excited to get it on the road," said David Nguyen, 28, a UH alumni helping the Eco-H team. "It's been a-year-and-a-half-long project."

Ninety-nine teams and 118 vehicles from the U.S, Mexico, Canada and Brazil participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon this weekend at Discovery Green in downtown, a challenge encouraging students to design and build energy-efficient vehicles. Students competed in two different design classes: the UrbanConcept, aimed to build fuel economy vehicles that resemble today's cars, and Prototypes, which tasked competitors with building the most aerodynamic and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Texas representatives included UH, Rice University and University of Texas-San Antonio.

Eco-H entered its hydrogen fuel cell car in UrbanConcept, a competition the school has competed in for the past five years.

"The first semester was all planning design," said Julio Cornejo, 25, a UH senior studying mechanical engineering technology. "The other two consisted of construction."

Team SuperLeggerra, a team building UH's first entry into the prototype division, started planning its vehicle last summer. Construction began in November.

"A lot of sacrifice went into this," said Jose Guerrero, 28, a senior studying mechanical engineering technology. "Our car has a teardrop shape so it's a lot more aerodynamic."

The Rice team was thrilled that its first solar car, RSC Enterprise, debuted.

"It's pretty great to see it come together and see it roll," said team manager Andrew Owens, 22, also a mechanical engineering senior.

Kerry Wang, 22, a senior studying chemical and biomolecular engineering, drove the solar-powered car. "It's exhilarating to drive what I spent working on," he said. "This has never been done at Rice before."

UTSA joined with San Antonio's James Madison High School to build a prototype Nova.

According to Norma Gomez, a 25-year-old mechanical engineering senior, it took three weeks to build the solar car. "It's a little bit of a Frankenstein," she said. "It's a Go-Kart retrofitted with bicycle parts."

For Dominic Ochoa, 17, completing the project was a lesson in teamwork.

"We have overcome a lot of obstacles," he said. "It has meant so much having a tangible product that races. I have learned so much."

Valerie Gamao, a 17-year-old junior at Madison, strategically took on the role of driver for her team. "Guys tend to go crazy with the cars," she said. "Girls will listen more and know when to stop and I'm also short."