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The stakes are high in Houston as four high schools and universities prepare for Shell Eco-marathon Americas. St. John’s High School and the University of Houston are competing again this year and for the first time, Westside High School and Rice University are also getting ready to compete.
They and more than 1,000 other high school and university students across the Americas are preparing for the sixth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Shell Eco-marathon challenges students to build, design and compete with their high-mileage vehicles in competitions held annually in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Shell Eco-marathon brings together future leaders in science and engineering who are passionate about finding solutions to global energy challenges.
At the University of Houston, the Superleggera team expects its entry to achieve the equivalent of 1,000 miles per gallon. “We want our vehicle to represent the school well and start a legacy that can be continued by future teams,” said Superleggera team leader Jose Guerrero. “We also hope that one day soon, our school can claim the number one spot – not only at Shell Eco-marathon Americas – but among all the Houston schools competing!”
“This is our first year participating in Shell Eco-marathon Americas and we are excited to show everyone, especially theUniversity of Houston, just what Rice University can do,” said Andrew Owens of the Rice Solar Car team. “Our two universities have a long-standing rivalry between them and we’d love to bring a win home to Rice, especially when it involves the future of energy.”
From March 29 through April 1, students and their fuel-efficient vehicles will navigate the streets of downtown Houston, amid the skyscrapers, and strive to break the astounding 2,564.8 miles per (one) gallon achieved in 2011 by Quebec’s Universite Laval team, which will compete again this year.
That far outperformed the 50 miles per gallon attained by a Shell scientist in 1939 in a challenge that has evolved into today’s Shell Eco-marathon. Since then, the event has brought together thousands of students from more than 30 countries to put their futuristic vehicles to the test.
“Shell Eco-marathon is an important part of the energy challenge facing our planet,” says Mark Singer, global project manager. “The future will require a mosaic of energy solutions, and we believe we’re contributing to a smarter energy future with more responsible options for our customers and credible advice for our markets and policymakers. Shell Eco-marathon is an amazing experience for students and spectators alike.”
For first-time competitors from Rice University, participating in this year’s event goes beyond what number the team places in the challenge. “Our participation involves motivating and educating students through a large scale, interdisciplinary, hands-on project in which students can collaborate to create something spectacular,” said Rice Solar Car team spokesman Robert Wilson. “We hope to introduce students to the fun side of engineering by allowing them to practice some of the skills they’ve developed in their classes and build something they can be proud of.”
“By encouraging students around the world to design, build and test vehicles that travel farther using less energy, Shell Eco-marathon provides an education platform for students to apply real-life skills to meet the increasing demand for energy,” says Singer. “These students and their innovative ideas can help shape the future of energy.”
Shell Eco-marathon Americas is family-friendly, free and open to the public; so, spectators can come out to watch and cheer on the teams. There will be a variety of activities and displays on-hand at Discovery Green and George R. Brown Convention Center, including: Science and education displays in the park for children and families including The Children’s Museum ofHouston, the Offshore Energy Center, Houston Community College-NE, the University of Texas: GeoFORCE Program, San Jacinto College, Trinity Science Solutions LLC, HoustonWorks, Fiat and a variety of educational Shell displays and booths in the park.
Additionally, the National CSTEM Challenge, which is a cross curriculum project incorporating Communications, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to encourage students of all ages to develop problem solving skills and solutions, will also be taking place at George R. Brown Convention Center.
In addition to the student competition, Shell along with media sponsor The New York Times, will host the 2012 Energy Summit: Earth 2050: The Nexus of Food, Energy, Water. The two-day symposium will be attended by a variety of leaders representing policy, the environment, business and academia.
Shell Eco-marathon Americas coincides with another key Shell community event, the 2012 Shell Houston Open, which will be played the week of March 26-April 1 at Redstone Golf Club-Tournament course. Phil Mickelson is defending champion. Visit www.ShellHoustonOpen.com and www.shell.com/ecomarathon/americas for details.
For more information on all 2012 events across the globe, including the complete Americas 2012 roster, schedule and official rules, please visit Shell Eco-marathon website at www.shell.com/ecomarathon/americas.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/vermin87/