Tech Double X, entered by Louisiana Tech's Eco-Car team in Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013

Photograph courtesy Eco-Car team

School: Louisiana Tech

Team: Louisiana Tech Eco-Car

Car Name: Tech Double X (Gasoline Urban Concept category)

What is special about your car? This vehicle is a beautiful marriage of function and aesthetics. The 100-percent student-built vehicle uses fabrication methods that enable aesthetically pleasing designs that optimize vehicle performance and accommodate the advanced technology that the vehicle contains. The most visible feature of the monocoque vehicle is the running boards which connect the front and rear wheel enclosures. This body design was chosen for aerodynamics and aesthetics but poses a significant manufacturing challenge. The body of the vehicle was cut from four large blocks of Styrofoam which were glued together and hand laid with carbon fiber. The process is time consuming and difficult; however, the resulting aerodynamic advantage allows the vehicle to stretch even more distance from every milliliter of fuel. A large effort was placed on the small details of the car. Examples include: an interior lined with carbon fiber to enhance the strength of the vehicle, an ergonomic carbon fiber seat and fire extinguisher mount, and a miniature PC onboard that provides a heads-up display to the driver, as well as real-time engine diagnostics streamed over a cellular network. A large part of engineering a vehicle that people will choose to buy is aesthetics. For this car we combine fuel efficiency with elegance. The organic curves and futuristic style, complete with a “Lambo” style door, make this vehicle have the appearance of the commuter vehicle of the future.

Why is fuel efficiency important to your team? Fuel efficiency is something that must be considered in all vehicle design. As there is increasing demand for fossil fuels and other energy sources, finding ways to efficiently consume energy is important to a sustainable economic and environmental future. Our team has competed in the Eco-Marathon for six years, in which building a fuel efficient vehicle is the main objective. For every year we have competed in Shell Eco-marathon, we have always pushed the performance envelope of our vehicles. Additionally, as a team we have always strived to build vehicles that not only perform well, but are vehicles that people actually want to drive. Our goal is to design and build vehicles that combine performance, efficiency, and aesthetics to become widely acclaimed prototypes of technologically advanced future vehicles.

Who or what inspired you on the way to Eco-marathon? The biggest inspiration for our team is the relationships that are formed between team members. We started our team six years ago with only five students. Since that time, we have increased in size, in capability, and in the skills of our team. Our team is made up of students who receive no class credit for their involvement; it is a completely volunteer program. Students who have worked on the cars before have certain skill sets, and use these skill sets to help train new members of the team that have a desire to learn. Information is passed on from year to year through working with other team members. This shows the type of commitment that each of our team members has for this program. Alumni of our team who have now graduated and moved on to their careers helped to lay the groundwork that is still being used today. It is easy to see the impact that this program has on our team members. In the most recent Eco-marathon, eight alumni of the team returned to Houston from all around the world to show support to the current team. Not only is this competition a learning experience focused on implementing the theory of engineering learned in the classroom into a project, but it is also a team building experience where strong, lifelong relationships are formed.

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