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Eco-car team emanates excellence

May 1, 2014

 

CODY “TICK” MCELROY
Staff Reporter

 

Driving around Houston, Texas, is not necessarily the best way to test a car’s gas mileage. But that’s exactly what Louisiana Tech’s Eco Car team did Saturday in a competition against more than 100 teams from other schools.

 

Engineering students traveled to Houston last weekend for the annual Shell Eco-Marathon. They placed second in the gas division, third in the diesel and won first in the design category.

Nathaniel Pruden, a junior industrial engineering major, drives XX during the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Houston this past weekend. –Photo by Ben Smith

Nathaniel Pruden, a junior industrial engineering major, drives XX during the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Houston this past weekend. –Photo by Ben Smith

 

Nathaniel Pruden, a junior industrial engineering major, said Tech placed in the gas and diesel divisions by creating vehicles with terrific gas mileage. The team’s gasoline car, named XX, finished with an average more than 380 miles per gallon. The design category is based on aesthetics.

 

But Pruden said getting good gas mileage isn’t the only goal of the competition.

 

“It’s not just building, it’s selling a car,” Pruden said. “The team is open to any major. We need all disciplines involved.”

 

He also stressed the value in experience gained when working on the team.

 

“It’s the closest to an actual job other than an actual job,” he said. “We build the car from scratch, from the ground up.”

 

Pruden said this was his third year to compete, and he would definitely return to participate.

 

“If I could do this for the rest of my life, I absolutely would,” Pruden said.

 

Heath Tims, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, said he discovered the competition through an email seven years ago. Tech has competed ever since.

 

TIMS

TIMS

Tims said experience through teamwork is important to participation.

 

“My favorite part is to see, through leadership and cooperation, everyone grow as a team,” Tims said. “It reaches people beyond the classroom.”

 

He said faculty with expertise work with those on the team, but the students are largely self-supportive, advising and helping each other.

 

“It’s more like an apprenticeship,” he said.

 

Tims said winning is nice, and Tech has won the design category four out of five years. The category is based on practical marketable appeal.

 

He also said Tech has placed in the top three in the urban category for six straight years, winning three. The urban category holds the gas and diesel divisions and is the one Tech competes in.

 

“What I am most proud of when I look back over the seven years, is the experience the students gained,” Tims said. “Learning experience is the best part by far.”

 

Pruden said joining is easy and anyone can come by the Eco-Car room in the basement of Bogard Hall in the summer or fall.

 

“It’s really just showing up and working,” Pruden said. “You don’t need to have any prior knowledge.”

 

Email comments to cjm048@latech.edu.

 

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