Car Competition Opens New Opportunities For Houston Students

At one Houston high school there’s a class that doesn’t rely much on textbooks or blackboards. Instead, the lessons can often mean getting your hands dirty.

By Gail DelaughterFebruary 28, 2017 9:30 am| , , , ,

From Houston Public Media

You could mistake it for your neighborhood car repair shop. There are big bay doors and noisy tools and a few cars up on the rack. But in this case it’s a classroom at Elsik High School in Alief ISD.

Angel Rodriguez, 18, is a senior at Elsik. He and his family are from Mexico and they immigrated to the U.S. a few years ago.

They needed a family vehicle and Rodriguez did some research. And he ended up getting bit by the car bug.

“I found that cars actually have more than what I used to know,” says Rodriguez. “That you just get in a car, turn it on and just drive it. But I found out that a car is much more complex than that.”

Now Rodriguez is taking his interest to the next level. He’s leading Elsik’s team for the Shell Eco-Marathon.

In April the team will go to Detroit to compete against high school and college teams from all over North America, to see who can build the most fuel-efficient vehicle.  Rodriguez is hoping they can get some mileage from a single-cylinder gas engine.

“This gasoline engine gives us hundreds of miles per gallon,” explains Rodriguez. “We’re not 100 percent sure of what’s our mileage. But we predict that it’s going to be in the 200 range.”

Now when the students say they’re building a car, they really mean it.

They came up with a design for their stripped-down vehicle and put it on paper. Then, they constructed a fiberglass chassis.

But Rodriguez says the Eco-Challenge is not just about creating a vehicle. It’s also about teamwork.

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