By Bryce Ronquillo
A collaboration of Automotive Technology and Engineering students at East Los Angeles College competed among 114 universities, junior colleges and high schools from around the world on April 9-12 in the 2015 Shell Eco-marathon in Detroit, Michigan.
Many representatives from automotive companies were at this competition to look for the next generation in the automotive industry.
A team of nine ELAC students called Team Husky Garage worked on the vehicle.
The Shell Eco-marathon challenged students to build the most fuel-efficient vehicle from scratch and drive it seven laps on a 0.9 mile track less than 25 minutes.
The entire vehicle was constructed from parts engineered at ELAC.
“We didn’t just order the parts then read the directions on how to put it together like a puzzle. We had to design and make the parts ourselves,” Automotive Technology professor and team adviser Adrian Banuelos said.
Bicycle wheels and an engine used in a Weedwacker were used.
“It has taken us about a year to design and build our vehicle,” Banuelos said.
There is a rigorous safety and technical inspection that the vehicle must pass in order to race, which adds difficulty to the competition.
“Out of the 114 schools, only 29 passed the safety inspection,” Automotive Technician major Rick Muñoz said.
ELAC was one of those schools due to the modifications that needed to be made to the vehicle. The team barely made the time cut to race.
“The key is safety. We had to change our design a number of times due to technical difficulties. We almost weren’t allowed on the track,” Automotive Science major Juan Gonzales said.
The vehicle was driven by engineering major Ryan Ross-Pok. Engineering major Hugo Ramirez talked to Ross-Pok via a headset during the race. Ross-Pok drove the vehicle in last year’s competition.
“Ryan was more worried about fuel efficiency than making it in time. I told him to keep speeding up so we can make the cut. I’m assuming because earlier that morning he saw a driver with a leg cast and crutches,” Ramirez said.
Team Husky Garage’s results were deemed invalid and their score wasn’t given to them because he team failed to complete the course within the 25-minute deadline.
“We were all a little disappointed. We lacked proper communication and time management as a team,” Ross-Pok said.
“For a team to be successful in this competition, they need communication, time management and have to work well together. We accomplished a lot and had a great experience,” Ross-Pok said.
“I am just the adviser. All the work is done by the students. It is important that they leave with a sense of competition,” Banuelos said.