They may have the shortest commute to the competition, but three schools from Houston are busy building vehicles they hope will help them go the farthest distance – using the least amount of energy.
Local students from the University of Houston, Westside High School and St. John's School will soon join more than 1,000 other students from across the Americas at the seventh annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas competition in Houston April 5-7. Shell Eco-marathon isn't about breaking speed records or racing other teams to the finish, instead, the competition honors the students who deliver the highest miles-per-gallon performance.
Nearly 110 teams from Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States will put their supermileage vehicles to the test this year. Once in Houston, the students will all aim to surpass last year's achievement of 2,188 mpg. That impressive mileage was attained by the Mater Dei High School team of Evansville, Ind., who has again registered four vehicles this year in an attempt to defend their title. Still, with Shell Eco-marathon Americas right in their own backyard, the teams from Houston may feel the stakes are the greatest as they look for their chance to claim both the city and the state's first title.
Student competitors come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, with novices competing against veteran teams who have been participating since the competition began in the Americas in 2007. But they share a common vision – coming together to create feasible approaches to addressing future energy challenges.
"Shell Eco-marathon is a visible demonstration of how we can all face, head-on, the growing demand for energy worldwide in a responsible way," says Mark Singer , Shell Eco-marathon Global Project Manager. "As more and more schools from across the Americas participate in the challenge each year, it's easy to see that Shell Eco-marathon truly inspires all of us to think about energy efficiency and the ways we can work together to create tomorrow's energy solutions in a practical way today."
The University of Houston team has set several goals for this year's competition, including achieving first place in the UrbanConcept Hydrogen fuel cell category and winning the Best Team Spirit and Design Special Awards.
"We each bring a different skill to the team that will help us build and achieve our goals in the competition," said Adewale Taiwo of the University of Houston's Team Daedalus. "Our team wants to create a realistic vehicle that can be deemed roadworthy while also helping to promote engineering and technology to the next generation of college students."
Returning competitors from Westside High School are excited to see how their vehicles stack up against the others not only on the track, but also in the Design and Technology Innovation Special Award categories. The team will bring their vehicle made from bamboo and other recycled materials back to the competition in hopes of coming out on top.
"We were inspired to build the vehicle from our experience in the Ecology Club at school and by our passion for engineering," said team manager Timothy Huang . "We had a vision of using a high quality renewable resource, like bamboo, as the main component of our vehicle, and we saw it through. We think our innovation can be scaled up to the industrial level, reducing the world's dependence on petroleum based products and in turn lower gasoline prices."
Public Encouraged to Take Part in Fun and Educational Activities
Many high school and college students will be striving to break supermileage records on the track, but Shell Eco-marathon Americas is also expanding off the track. This year, Shell is excited to offer spectators and visitors even more fun and interactive things to do while watching and cheering on the teams at Shell Eco-marathon Americas. The event, which is free and open to the public, is a family-friendly place that offers something for everyone. Spectators are encouraged to visit the George R. Brown Convention Center Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 7 to meet the students, roam around, learn and play!
One new highlight is the Shell Energy Lab, an interactive exhibit that demonstrates how the work of Shell Eco-marathon Americas participants is just one of many inspiring efforts using innovation to solve energy challenges and keep the world moving in cleaner, more energy efficient ways. Visitors can also play the Shell Smarter Driving Challenge to become one in a million motorists worldwide learning how to drive more efficiently. While this marks the US launch of the global initiative, Shell has already taught more than a quarter of a million drivers to reduce fuel consumption and costs.
While in the convention center, spectators can visit the mPowering mobile recording studio to record their own chart-topper while connecting with young people around the world to share stories, streaming exclusive songs by participating artists, discovering information on important issues, and exploring volunteering opportunities anywhere in the world. Shell is proud to be part of this important effort by the United Nations Foundation.
Spectators can learn what energy and dancing have in common by showing their moves and finding out how much energy a human can generate on a kinetic dance floor. The dance floor will show participants how much power it takes to light up a desk lamp, a household, a football stadium, and even the Eiffel Tower!
In addition to these fun and educational activities, early comers to Shell Eco-marathon Americas will have a chance to win a salt water powered toy car, which they can build and then test on the track in the convention center.
Other displays at Shell Eco-marathon Americas will include Shell's Formula One racing car, the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion race car, and Radio Disney.
Thinking about the Energy Future
Shell knows that the world's population is growing all the time and, with it, so is the global demand for energy. As a result, we need new, sustainable ways to meet the rising demand. So, for Shell Eco-marathon 2013, students are encouraged to be part of the conversation by participating in a new prize category, The Shell Student Energy Challenge.
The new prize category asks student teams to consider the wider energy context that surrounds their fantastic achievements in the mileage challenge. To participate, each school was asked to submit at least one infographic that answers one of three energy-related questions provided by Shell. Submissions for the Americas teams are due by April 1 and the winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
For more information on all 2013 events across the globe, including the complete Americas 2013 roster, schedule and official rules, please visit the Shell Eco-marathon website at www.shell.com/ecomarathon. For an inside look at the trials and tribulations teams face as they prepare for Shell Eco-marathon Americas, check out a new three-part mini-series of films, called "The Road to Houston," which follows several teams as they race to finish their vehicles in time.