Students hit the road in eco-car competition

Al Ruwais College and Abu Dhabi Men’s College from the Higher Colleges of Technology came in third and fourth place respectively in the Shell Eco-Marathon, held in Manila.
Abdulaziz Al Mheiri, team leader of the Ruwais Men’s College, after receiving recognition for placing third in the Shell Asia Eco-marathon challenge held earlier this year in the Philippines. Christopher Pike / The National
Abdulaziz Al Mheiri, team leader of the Ruwais Men’s College, after receiving recognition for placing third in the Shell Asia Eco-marathon challenge held earlier this year in the Philippines. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Students from two Abu Dhabi colleges were successful at an international competition to build fuel-efficient cars.

Al Ruwais College and Abu Dhabi Men’s College from the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) placed third and fourth respectively in the Shell Eco-marathon held in Manila.

They competed against more than 100 teams from the Middle East and Asia, but were eventually bested by a Chinese team, which took first place, and a Singaporean team that finished second.

The competition, which Shell has run for the past 28 years, features more than 5,000 students, who are challenged to build the most fuel-efficient single-seater cars possible.

“It let us implement what we learnt in the classroom in a real setting,” said Abdulaziz Al Mheiri, a 28-year-old mechatronic engineering student and the team leader of the Al Ruwais College team.

“We found it was very enjoyable. It was a lot of fun, actually.”

It took his team more than four months to put their car together, as they constantly improved its design to maximise its range from the single litre of diesel they were permitted to use.

Last year, the team put its car through its paces at the Yas Marina Circuit. During the trial, the car travelled 180 kilometres on a litre of fuel, but on the day of the competition in Manila it managed only 151km. The shorter distance was put down to a rougher road surface.

“For us to represent our country at a worldwide event was a great achievement,” Mr Al Mheiri said.

“Now with the car, this shows us that we have capability in engineering in the UAE. That was always the main goal – to bring the name of the UAE to the world. Now we will start new modifications to the car. We are also working on an electric car as well.”

Mr Al Mheiri, who is a full-time staffer at the college, said: “People need to work hard and believe in themselves and they can excel.”

Dr Tayeb Kamali, HCT’s vice chancellor, said the Shell Eco-marathon competition had provided its students with the opportunity to build fuel-efficient cars in the UAE.

He said that skill would be an essential one in helping the country to develop a sustainable economy, while providing students with the practical skills and knowledge that were part of HCT’s philosophy of learning by doing.

“It is a proud moment to see the wonderful result achieved in this contest [and] to see this continue the way it has in changing lives and inspiring so many students worldwide,” he said.

Both teams are well on their way to developing concepts for next year’s Shell Eco-marathon and they will be joined by other universities from across the UAE and the region.

“We are very proud of the students, not because of what we give them, but because of what they take out of this,” said Andrew Vaughan, Shell’s vice president for Abu Dhabi and Kuwait.

“It is about innovation. This can lead to a smarter and a more sustainable future. The eco-marathon is about teamwork, it is about personal development in technical development and management. The students from Abu Dhabi have shown the world that they can compete on a global level.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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