‘Gassin’ up the competition

The CAPE Owls are preparing to submit not one, but two prototypes to the Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Detroit.

The CAPE Owls are a group of automotive and engineering students who collaborate to build fuel-efficient vehicles.

The Citrus Automotive Physics Engineering Program is part of the Citrus Research in Science and Engineering program, which encourages students to work on team based research projects.

Team members learn to weld and to work with fiberglass while creating vehicles.

“They learn how to solve problems,” said Instructor Mariano Rubio, CAPE Owls adviser.

“If there is something that needs to be done, they have to go in and do the research.”

More than 100 schools, 120 teams and 1,200 students from across America will tackle the challenges associated with energy mobility and the future of cars.

The CAPE Owls, who will be competing for their third consecutive year, hope to reach 1,500 mpg fuel efficiency by both areas of the competition.

Last year the CAPE Owls achieved 532 mpg, ranking 14th place, beating out UCLA and UC Berkeley in the gasoline portion of the competition.

“We are trying to place in the top 10 this year,” Rubio said. “My personal goal is to be the highest ranking California team.”

They will be competing in two categories at the April 2016 competition: gasoline and diesel.

To build both a gasoline and a diesel vehicle, they will need to raise $40,000.

“Once we get enough funds, we will be able to start building,” said mechanical engineering major, Grant Quinn, 23, gas team leader.

If not enough funds come through, the team members will improve on the gasoline vehicle from last year and build a whole new diesel prototype.

“We are still able to make upgrades, make changes, and re-engineer some parts of the current gas prototype and continue with it,” said automotive and diesel technology major Bernie Segura, 35, diesel team leader.

Reducing the weight is the main factor in fuel efficiency. The team would use different components, such as aluminum instead of steel, and reduce the rolling resistance.

“The goal is to keep everything as light as possible,” Segura said.

Reducing the weight means that the engine works less, therefore achieving higher fuel efficiency.

Shell engineers oversee all of the development and research that goes into creating the automobile.

“All of us are really excited about this project,” Segura said, “We will go before top automotive engineers as well.”

“I’m looking forward to the hands-on experience that I’ll gain,” Quinn said. “It’s not everyday that you get to weld and work on creating a car.”

The students will be coming in to work on the weekends and between classes to construct their cars.

“There’s nothing better for a teacher than seeing students come together and solve problems,” Rubio said. “It’s a great motivation for them to continue on after this.”

For more information about the CAPE Owls, visit their page on the Citrus website. To assist in fundraising, visit the ‘Make 1500 Mpg a Reality’ fundraising page on the YouCaring website.