We are trying to reach out to the future generation of engineers and scientists aged 16-30 through the Eco-Marathon

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Published: November 24, 2014 12:40:06 AM

The Eco-Marathon is an annual competition sponsored by Shell, in which participants...

The Eco-Marathon is an annual competition sponsored by Shell, in which participants (student teams) build special vehicles to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency. Yasmine Hilton, Chairman, Shell India, says that it is one of the most innovative and challenging student competitions held globally. In an email interaction with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, she adds that Shell has received a very encouraging response to the Eco-marathon from India over the years. “With 18 student teams making it to the final list, this year sets a record for highest participation from India,” she says.

What is the Eco-marathon and how was the idea conceived?
Shell Eco-marathon is one of the most innovative and challenging student competitions held annually in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Shell Eco-marathon brings together today’s leaders and future innovators, along with people who are passionate about energy issues and asks them to think about sustainable solutions to the world’s energy challenge.

It traces its roots back to 1939 and a friendly bet between scientists at a Shell research facility in Illinois, USA, as to who could drive their own car the furthest on a gallon of fuel. The winner managed a little over 21 km. From these humble origins, the competition for fuel economy evolved and moved to Europe, the US and Asia. In its current form, Shell Eco-marathon Europe began in 1985 in France. The first Shell Eco-marathon Americas event was held at the California Speedway in 2007. Shell Eco-marathon Asia first took place in Kuala Lumpur in 2010, where it remained till 2013.

In 2015, Shell Eco-marathon Asia will take place in Manila, Philippines from February 26-March 1. The Luneta Park in Manila will be transformed into a track where over 170 (as of September 17, 2014) student teams from countries across Asia, Australia, Middle East and South Africa will put cars they have designed and built to the test—to see which car can travel the farthest using the least fuel.
Who is Shell trying to reach out to?
Shell is trying to reach out to the future generation of engineers and scientists aged 16-30 across Asian countries. In addition, Shell aims to bring together partners, stakeholders and current and future leaders passionate about energy issues to work closely together on the world’s energy challenges.
The teams participate in Shell Eco-marathon on a voluntary basis. Students are challenged to drive further than their peers on 1kWh or 1 litre of fuel. They are registered in two different design categories—Prototype (aimed to build the most aerodynamic and fuel-efficient vehicle possible) and UrbanConcept (aimed to build fuel-economy vehicles that resemble today’s cars). The selection process includes a number of rounds that challenge students to push their ideas to the limit. Interested teams submit their car designs in the form of pictures and sketches in the first round. In the second round, shortlisted teams are expected to provide more technical data on their vehicle. The selection process for SEM 2015 will conclude with the final phase on December 31.
What activities will take place during the Eco-marathon Asia?
During these four days (February 26-March 1), students, residents from Manila and guests from other countries can truly participate in the future of energy and mobility and experience Shell innovation as well as that of our partners.
What is the response for this year’s Eco-marathon Asia?
We have received a very encouraging response from India over the years. With 18 teams making it to the final list, this year sets a record for highest participation from India. Over the years, the numbers have risen from nine student teams participating in 2011, to 11 teams in 2012, 15 teams in 2013, 17 teams in 2014 and 18 teams this year. We are grateful for the support that we received from various stakeholders including government, partners and staff in encouraging the initiative in India.
How will students benefit?
It is an exciting opportunity for students to showcase their work and contribute in the field of innovation. Shell is providing students a platform to display their knowledge, creativity and innovation and we are impressed with the way they have translated that into their designs. Students are given this opportunity to build their engineering skills and represent their college. It is a matter of pride for students to compete at an inter-Asia level. We are aware that some students have been able to gain admission into top universities because of their involvement in Shell Eco-marathon. Some of these students have also joined Shell.
What are the categories and prizes for the Eco-marathon?
Student teams may participate in one or both of the Prototype and UrbanConcept categories of the competition. The Prototype category will showcase the most aerodynamic and fuel-efficient vehicle possible—these streamlined vehicles focused on maximising fuel-efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction. The UrbanConcept category will focus on more “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles. Aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers, these vehicles are closer in appearance to the higher-mileage cars seen on roads today.

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