Cool Schools: Mater Dei green cars

By Laura Forbes - bio | emailTwitter
Posted by Rachel Folz - email

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Students at Mater Dei high may be helping design the green car of the future.

They compete in competitions to build the most fuel-efficient cars possible.

"How we do that is a mix of weight, our engine, rolling resistance, air resistance," Senior Phillip Stute explains.

They compete in a national competition called the Shell Eco-Marathon with two vehicles, the prototype and the urban.

"They give you a height and width dimension so you don't tip over," co-advisor Dan Ritter said of the prototype. "But otherwise you can do pretty much whatever you want."

Mater Dei took second place in their prototype.  It was 1,800 miles to the gallon!

The urban car is less efficient but more practical with common features like brake lights and turn signals.

Mater Dei took first place at this year's competition with their urban car.  It gets 437 miles to the gallon.

"This is kind of a national shout out, if you want to call it that, to fuel efficiency companies," Stute says. "Hey, this is what we're getting, let's see if we can compare notes and make our fuel efficiency better in the future."

Some students develop talents they already have and others start from scratch.

"Some of these kids don't even know which way to turn the nut to tighten it, you know, righty tighty, lefty loosey," Ritter says. "They don't even know that when they start."

They may start small but many students have gone on to pursue degrees in engineering.

Some work specifically on efficiency.

These students hope that their hobby of building tiny cars will one day contribute to a bigger cause.

©2010 WFIE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.