Granite Falls High School Eco-Marathon Vehicles

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Granite Falls (Washington) high school chapter student members design, build and successfully race super-mileage vehicles...

The Shell Eco-marathon began in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States as a friendly wager between scientists to see who could get the most miles per gallon from their vehicle. The winner of that contest barely achieved 50 mpg, and from these humble origins, a more organized competition evolved. In 1985 in France, Shell Eco-marathon was born. In April 2007, Shell Eco-marathon Americas event was launched in the United States. Two teams from Granite Falls High School, Granite Falls, Washington,participated in the 2010 and 2011 Eco-Marathon events and are preparing to compete again in the 2012 competition. All eco car participants are TSA members and they also hold the leadership positions  in the chapter.  “Being organized as a TSA chapter, with president, vice president and staff positions is very transferable to being a race team with manager, co-manager and various team positions.  Participating in the leadership and competition components of TSA are very valuable and transferable to the Shell event and vice versa,” said TSA chapter advisor, Michael Werner.

Granite Falls’ teams, UrbanAutos and ShopGirls participated in the 2011 event, held in the downtown area of Houston, Texas.  The ShopGirls team received notoriety because of their unique position as the only all-female team at the race. After winning the prototype diesel category in 2010 with 470 mpg, the ShopGirls’ car, the Iron Maiden, experienced technical difficulties but still received second place in the prototype diesel category in 2011. They won first place in the Safety Award out of almost 70 teams.  The UrbanAutos team won 1st place in the 2011 event and now holds the new Americas Record for the Urban Concept Diesel Category with 186.5 MPG

‘Creativity, innovation, play, curiosity, discovery, problem solving and real world application are words that come to mind connecting TSA and the Shell Eco-marathon,” Mr. Werner said.

High School and University Student teams are encouraged to participate in one or both of the “Prototype” and “UrbanConcept” classes in Shell Eco-marathon. The “Prototype” class invites student teams to enter futuristic prototypes – streamlined vehicles focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction.

The “UrbanConcept” class focuses on more “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles. Aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers, these vehicles are closer in appearance to the higher-mileage cars seen on roads today. In the Americas event for both classes, teams can use a range of seven official energy sources – including fuels such as diesel and gasoline as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ethanol, FAME, solar and battery electric.

“In July, 2011 Shell invited the ShopGirls team to the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado.  The Festival encouraged discussion all sorts of topics including arts, science, culture, philosophy, economics, and politics.  It is like a weeklong university with seminars and classes on a huge variety of topics; the ShopGirls were interviewed by Atlantic Magazine followed by a Q&A with the audience,” Mr. Werner said.

This last September the co-ed UrbanAutos team took their modified car to the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Mr. Werner explained, “they went there not to set a speed record, but to raise awareness for alternative fuel testing and make it an STEM educational outreach.”

The sixth annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 is now open for registration to students across North and South America. This super-mileage challenge, created by Shell, is designed to inspire student innovation and develop future technologies that represent game-changing fuel efficiency and transportation performance.  The challenge helps to meet the growing energy demand and reduce future CO2 emissions, Shell Eco-marathon challenges participants to design, build, and test vehicles to go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

From March 29 through April 1, 2012, the challenge will again take place on the streets of downtown Houston. Shell Eco-marathon is held globally in a variety of locations and provides engineers of tomorrow the opportunity to put their energy efficiency ideas to the test.

Interested teams are invited to sign-up for a chance to stake their claim in next year’s challenge! For more information on all 2012 events across the globe, including official rules, instructions for registration and details on prizes, please visit the Shell Eco-marathon website at

To learn more about the Granite Falls Eco car program and how it is taught as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Manufacturing class see their website