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Drexel Engineers to Race Solar Cars at Discovery Green Parkway

March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011 A Drexel University senior design team comprised of eleven students led by Dr. Adam Fontecchio (ECE) and Dr. Bradley Layton (MEM) will enter the Shell Eco-Marathon competition for the first time in Houston, Texas, April 14 – 17, 2011 at Discovery Green Parkway. The team will compete for a grand prize of $50,000 while holding to the green competition objective of building a new generation of vehicles that are safe, reliable and environmentally friendly.

The Shell Eco-Marathon Challenge is an annual competition hosted by the Shell Oil Company to see which team can build the vehicle that can travel the longest distance using the least amount of energy, or in other words is the most fuel efficient vehicle. Students build vehicles using any one of the six available energy sources: gasoline, diesel, LPG, electric, solar and hydrogen. The members of the Drexel Team will compete in the solar car category.

“The solar category is one of the more challenging categories of the Shell Eco-Marathon because of the complexity of building a solar car and the unpredictability of the weather during the competition. Solar vehicles, however, also achieve the greatest energy efficiency, putting them immediately at the top of the competition,” said David Ho, a mechanical engineering student.

Since the project is based around green engineering, the team has decided to reuse materials and components from previous year’s senior design project, the Automotive X-Prize vehicle, rather than purchase entirely new components. The construction of the solar vehicle is currently underway at the Hess Laboratory on Drexel’s campus where a life-size vehicle is taking shape.

“Building a solar vehicle has special merits, especially for a school such as Drexel University, who holds itself as a pioneer of technology and leader in sustainability. The Shell Eco-Marathon Competition is a great way to meld the two themes together . Technology will take the car off the ground but sustainability and environmental-friendliness will win the competition,” said Asaf Erlich, an electrical and computer engineering student.

The solar vehicle project has received donations from sponsors that include Miller, Amatex-Norfab, Shell and private donations. However, the project is still short of its objectives and the team is still seeking sponsorship. If you would like to consider sponsoring the team, please contact Dr. Layton.

The Shell Eco-Marathon Senior Design team will be one of over 90 teams from across the United States to compete in this year’s competition which takes place across three continents: Europe, Asia, and the Americas. For more information on the Shell Eco-Marathon Senior Design team, please visit the Shell Eco-Marathon competition website.