Academics & Research

Cougars to compete in design ‘eco-marathon’

Five seniors from the College of Technology have been hard at work creating a prototype gas-friendly car to enter in two different competitions to fulfill their Senior Design requirements.

According to Senior Design Instructor Raresh Pascali, one of the team’s faculty advisers, Team Superleggera — Italian for super-lightweight — will first present their prototype in March at the Shell Eco-Marathon at Discovery Green and again in June at SAE Supermileage in Michigan.

Since the project takes a full year to complete, Jose Guerrero began looking for members in May 2011.

Edwin Rendon and Chris Wolf were chosen before the start of the semester, followed by Troy Whitney and Robert DiRocco in August.

“I knew Edwin from a previous project in 2009, and then we picked Chris because Edwin and I worked with him also on a previous project,” Guerrero said.

“Once the semester began, we chose Troy and Robert because they each brought something to the project that we needed.”

UH has participated in the Eco-Marathon in five non-consecutive years since 2006.

“This team has a harder task. They have to obey more rules (than) the other teams, since they are creating one prototype for two different competitions. The rules are different for both competitions, but they are working hard to make it work,” Pascali said.

Among other rules, the team’s prototype must achieve a minimum of 1,000 miles per gallon while weighing less than 100 pounds, and it must run on a 3.5HP Briggs & Stratton engine.

Daniel Boone Cycles and General Plastics & Composites both sponsor the team, helping them pay for the parts that are needed.

“The body of the prototype will be built in a body shop, courtesy of General Plastics & Composites,” said Wolf, whose main task is dealing with external engine modifications like the transmission and fuel injections.

Team Superleggera will face stiff competition from the better funded Canadian team, Rendon said.

“Realistically, winning is very difficult because of lack of funds and manpower when compared to Canada’s team, (which) has lots of money and a team of roughly either 10 to 20 people,” Rendon said.

“However, we plan on making history for the University by breaking the MPG record. From where I stand, Team Superleggera has already won… We have made sure that the city of Houston knows who we are.”

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