Students attend Mines for a variety of reasons: to follow in the footsteps of their parents, to earn a hefty paycheck, to change the world, or a little bit of it all.
“Engineering students from Colorado School of Mines are exploring innovative solutions to address the growing need for fuel efficiency and sustainable mobility,” said Thao Pham, the Public Relations chairman on the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas 2016 club here at Mines.
This club, which competed and performed well in the Shell Eco-Fuel Marathon previously, is designing the prototype for a vehicle made of material that drastically reduces its weight and thus makes it far more fuel-efficient.
“The materials we have considered for the body are poly carbonate, carbon fiber, fiberglass, acrylics, and aluminum,” said Connor Doyle, another member of the club.
Their efforts have thus far spanned last semester and currently, they are nearing the completion of the basic prototype.
“The frame is welded up,” said Joel Kuenning. “We’re mounting the engine now. It doesn’t have body panels yet, but the steering is ready to be assembled on. It should be rolling by the end of February.”
Each member expressed vivid interest in the implications that this technology could have on both the petroleum industry and beyond, especially in regards to education here at Mines and other science or technology schools.
“Mines is all about Earth, Energy, and Environment,” said Nick Rentz. “We don’t seem to focus so much on environment, and this marathon could really help shift our attention back again.”
Their largest goal, however, is to shed light on the importance of clean, efficient vehicles in a world rapidly seeing the effects of heavy carbon-based fuels.
“We’re hoping to go back to the vehicle interest,” said Dwain Lodter. “Maybe stop looking so much at oil and gas here, but at eco fuel vehicles as well.”
With such a weighty endeavor, the team has felt the pressure in the past to perform well with little to no support, and they are looking to avoid such an issue again.
“If any juniors in mechanical or electrical want to get involved next year, it would be cool if they wanted to come see it now,” said Rentz. “Future teams can come and get exposed now. We didn’t have that too much from the team before us.”
The team is looking for support in any way. Donations are always welcome, and if students are interested in donating their time or resources, they are encouraged to email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have our meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-10:00 am,” said Lodter. “But we can always arrange another time [to meet with interested students].”
The team is thrilled to have their vehicle perform in the marathon on April 22nd-24th, on the streets of Detroit. Their hopes are high, and they believe that they will perform well in the diesel division of the championship.