Sometimes, building a vehicle isn’t all about speed and visual aesthetics.
The Shell Eco-marathon challenge gets students thinking about the bigger picture -- how to create a car that is most energy efficient. And Kettering University students want to be a part of it.
Kettering’s Greener Engineering Organization (GEO) is leading the charge to participate in the 2017 international competition, which challenges student teams around the world to design, build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles.
“Alternative fuel is the way of the future,” said Akeem Sulaimon ‘17, president of Kettering GEO. “We would be building the vehicle from scratch and building our own controller if we decided to go electric. It’s good for us because we can test our theories before we go into the work field.”
Dr. Mark Thompson, Electrical Engineering faculty at Kettering and faculty advisor for the Shell Eco-marathon challenge, said it also positions the students to be a part of a major societal issue.
“These students will have the opportunity to be actively engaged in finding solutions to an important societal issue that surrounds energy efficiency. It’s important to their long-term future,” Thompson said. “They are working toward reducing air pollution in big cities, long-term reducing CO2 emissions, mitigating climate change and reducing energy dependency on foreign sources of fuel. It brings these students together to work on a team and find some niche innovations that they can implement and try.”
Sulaimon traveled to Detroit in April to check out this year’s Shell Eco-marathon competition and was very impressed. There were 130 teams from all over the world, including Canada, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
“It’s really cool because you get to interact with people from different nations. Everyone was helping each other out. We were learning from our competition,” Sulaimon said. “I felt like we were all mentoring each other. It’s good for us because we can test our theory out before we go into the work field.”
The design for the car would need to be ready by August. Sulaimon and Andrea Salutes ‘19, vice president of Kettering GEO, are hoping to get students from all majors and interests involved.
“We are in GEO because greener forms of energy is important to us. Being able to see these things put to work with high efficiency is very beneficial,” Salutes said. “You can apply the things you learn at the competition to your actual job.”
Thompson recommends students get involved to be a part of the future of the automotive industry.
“The idea of being involved with the solution is great. Companies are realizing what the future is. Students can be a part of it and this competition is a part of it,” Thompson said. “It’s about the bigger picture. It’s all about energy efficiency, not about being fast or being sleek. It’s about going as far as you can using the least amount of fuel and energy. It’s about learning knowledge and skills to minimize our consumption of fuel. This is the future.”
Students interested in being part of Kettering’s team for the 2017 Shell Eco-marathon competition can email Sulaimon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, major, section and what aspects you are interested in helping with.
“It’s an opportunity for us to bring this school together, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and anyone else who wants to join,” Sulaimon said.