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With Gas Prices Nearing $4 a Gallon, How Does 1,134 mpg Sound?
April 2, 2012
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students once again
showcased their ability to build and race some of the nation's best
fuel-efficient vehicles, placing two vehicles among the top
contenders at the sixth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas event
last weekend in Houston, Texas.
Rounding Corner: Ally Nelson takes the inside line to pass a
competing team during last weekend's Shell Eco-marathon Americas
event on streets near Discovery Green Park in downtown
Houston. Nelson drove the 74 Classic efficient vehicle to a
sixth-place finish this year.
Achieving 1,134 miles per gallon, Rose-Hulman's 74 Classic
(number 75) placed sixth out of 30 gasoline-powered vehicles in the
prototype division - and the fourth-best performance for an
American college team. Meanwhile, the 74 Extra Spicy
vehicle (number 74) was 13th at 767 mpg.
Prototype vehicles are typically smaller in size and more
futuristic-looking, with the overall design concept to reduce drag
and maximize efficiency. Vehicles in this class are
one-seater, built with three or four wheels and have an opened- or
closed-top driver compartment.
Shell Eco-marathon is a unique challenge for motivated students
that has all the elements associated with competition; emotion,
success, failure and regulations. Students are challenged to
drive farther than their peers on one gallon of fuel. More
than 1,000 students with 113 vehicles competed in this year's
challenge, taking place on the streets surrounding downtown
Houston's Discovery Green.
Both of Rose-Hulman's cars encountered overheating issues with
the unusual high temperatures at this year's competition, along
with electrical problems. Once on the track, drivers were
forced to deal with competing against as many as 100 teams at the
"It was still a good result despite the frustrations," reports
faculty advisor Allen White, assistant professor of mechanical
engineering. "The team fought hard all weekend, ultimately
staying up all night re-wiring both vehicles completely to help
solve some of the problems."
The vehicles' drivers were Ally Nelson, a junior mechanical
engineering major, and Ethan Skinner, a sophomore mechanical
Learn more about the Shell
Eco-marathon Americas competition.
Rose-Hulman driver Ally Nelson was interviewed during the
technical inspection process on the following
Shell Eco-marathon video (see her at 24 seconds into