University team’s electric vehicle speeds to victory


Photo Courtesy of Mike Philpott

The Eco Illini team presents their electric vehicle at the Shell Eco-Marathon in Sonoma, California.

A highly efficient car designed by University students drove to victory at the Shell Eco-marathon on Saturday.

EcoIllini is a student organization in the Society of Automotive Engineers and placed first at the competition. EcoIllini provides an environment for members to gain hands-on experience applying theories and principles taught in engineering classes on campus.

The Illini EcoConcept team also participated in the competition.

The Shell Eco-marathon is the world’s leading energy-efficiency competition for students that takes place annually in Sonoma, California.

According to Shell’s website, the competition intends to inspire young people to become leading scientists and engineers of the future by designing more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

The goal of the competition is to inspire teams to further technologies to improve vehicle efficiencies,” said Mike Philpott, associate Professor Emeritus in Engineering and the team faculty adviser of EcoIllini.

Twenty-two teams from all across North, Central and South America met for the competition, including Cornell and Purdue University.

Participating teams have the choice of creating vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, hydrogen fuel cells or electric batteries.

The EcoIllini team achieved first place, winning the battery-electric category with a high-efficiency vehicle.

Philpott said in previous years, EcoIllini has fielded gas vehicles and achieved 1,300 miles per gallon, but this was the first year the team entered a battery-electric vehicle into the competition.

Philpott said he was incredibly proud of the team’s first-place finish, especially considering technical challenges such as the breakdown that occurred just one half of a lap from the end.

I was very impressed and proud of both teams EcoIllini and Illini EcoConcept. They worked tirelessly, tackling numerous technical challenges,” he said. 

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