Louisiana Tech Eco-marathon Entry Enters Crunch Time

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article related to the Eco-marathon courtesy of National Geographic Society. Author credit goes to  Allie De Leo of Louisiana Tech University.

March 12

Our journey to Houston 2012 is well underway! This year our team is bringing three cars: a new gasoline prototype vehicle named ThunderDawg, a new diesel urban concept vehicle called HotRod, and the current American record holder urban concept vehicle – Roadster. We have a great team of over twenty people and over half of these people are new members! It is truly great to see our team continue to grow.

Since two of our cars are new, we have designed and fabricated them from the ground up. Through the summer and the early part of the school year, our team worked on designing the two new vehicles: HotRod and ThunderDawg.

image via NGS/Lousiana Tech University

For HotRod, we took the design for Roadster and altered it in such ways to increase fuel efficiency. We narrowed the front end of the vehicle and removed some weight from the body. By decreasing the frontal area and the weight of the vehicle, we hope to achieve great gas mileage.

As for ThunderDawg, one of our team members spent months designing the body of this vehicle. The body, consisting of its curves and shapes, is truly a work of art.

Today is the two and a half week mark until we leave for the Shell Eco-marathon Competition. We have officially entered, as we call it, “Crunch Time.” Our team has been working around the clock to have our cars completed for March 29th, the day we depart for Shell Eco-marathon Americas.

After returning from the competition last year, we have a made a few improvements to Roadster, such as replacing the rear lights. Besides needing to attach a newly designed and fabricated windshield wiper, Roadster is ready to take the journey to Houston for the SEMA Competition.

So far, we have made great progress on our two new cars. In early December, we used our three axis foam router to cut out the body of HotRod. By mid January, we have completed applying the carbon fiber to our body. Also in mid January, we cut out the body for ThunderDawg. By the end of January, the body of ThunderDawg had been completely covered in carbon fiber.

Since then, the engine chassis for both HotRod and Thunderdawg have been designed and welded together. Meanwhile, a few of our team members have been diligently working on the fuel injection system for ThunderDawg. It definitely looks promising this year!

Both HotRod and ThunderDawg have been making great progress. We have been completing the layout of all engine components, the steering system, the brakes, and many more aspects. Our team is making great progress on both cars and hope to have them each to paint in the next week. Our team is very much looking forward to the upcoming competition and will definitely remain in our hardworking “Crunch Time” mode to have our vehicles ready to compete!

March 14-15

We have officially reached our two week mark! Reaching this two week mark entails an exciting yet nervous feeling for all of our team members. We are so excited for the competition to be getting closer, but at the same time we are concerned with how much work must be completed in order for our cars to be up to the Louisiana Tech University standard that we pride ourselves in. Having been making such great strides in progress for both cars lately, we know that completing these cars for the competition is definitely possible.

For the past two days, we have continued to make progress on our vehicles. As for both cars, the windshield molds are in the process of being made. HotRod’s windshield mold was completed today (March 15th), and ThunderDawg’s windshield should be completed by this weekend.

As for ThunderDawg, our team has been working very hard on the steering. This year, we are going with a rear steered vehicle. This is a new adventure for us since all of our previous cars have been front wheel steered vehicles.  We hope to have the steering operating by this weekend.

For these two days, many things for HotRod have been in the works. We have officially installed the ignition in HotRod. This is a great step in the right direction to having the car ready for competition. Also, one of our members has been working on finishing the wheel pods, which include being able to attach and unattach them from the car and making sure the tires do not come in contact with them when making a turn. Lastly, we have been working on recessing the rear lights into the body of the vehicle. We are working for a smooth finish in the transition from the body to the cover of the lights and back to the body.

It’s wonderful to see all of these components being completed for both vehicles. This all means that we are getting closer to completing our cars and closer to the competition!

The Great Energy Challenge is an important three-year National Geographic initiative designed to help all of us better understand the breadth and depth of our current energy situation. National Geographic has assembled some of the world’s foremost researchers and scientists to help tackle the challenge. Led by Thomas Lovejoy, a National Geographic conservation fellow and renowned biologist, the team of advisers will work together to identify and provide support for projects focused on innovative energy solutions.

    • Jesse Hoff

      Looking forward to the competition also, we’ll be down there too from Alaska.  We’ll keep an eye out for you, but I don’t think we’ll be in similar categories.  Sounds like you guys know the course already but just in case here’s some helmet cam footage I shot last year of the course.  Enjoy and good luck.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6Ufn23SzVU

      Jesse Hoff