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Eco-car teams gear up for Detroit

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Tech, RHS prepare for competition
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Ruston High School students work on their 2015 eco-car. The Louisiana Tech University Eco-car team and Ruston High School’s Bearcat Motorsports teams will compete in the Shell Eco-marathon in April in Detroit.

Two local schools will seek to continue their success at the 2016’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Detroit.

The Louisiana Tech University Eco-Car team and Ruston High School’s Bearcat Motorsports, formerly known as Ruston High EcoCar, have been working all school year for the event in April.

Shell Eco-marathon displays student designed and built cars, focusing on the industry’s standards of energy efficiency.

In last year’s competition, Tech’s eco-car placed second in the UrbanConcept diesel category and broke barriers with a compressed natural gas-powered vehicle.

Tech’s natural gas vehicle was also the only natural gas car to pass technical inspection and run on the course.

Both cars received praise from former late night show host and car enthusiast Jay Leno.

Senior co-captain Xavier Theriot said the Tech team has 20 active members and the teams are working on their second place finishing diesel vehicle and a new Compressed Natural Gas vehicle.

Theriot said the teams goal is to continue its success from last year’s second place finish and also pass inspection and run the track for the CNG vehicle.

“It’s a hard task, but we’re focusing on one thing at a time and we feel like we can continue on with our success,” he said.

Freshman Kyle Dupree said the outside body of the CNG car is made of carbon fiber to make it lighter and the team designed all components of the car.

“From the wheels to the body, it’s all been done by us,” he said. “We plan to finish right before the competition.”

Freshmen Riley Spillman said it will take a team effort to build the vehicle and update the diesel vehicle, but she feels they can accomplish anything together.

“We’re young, but we help each other out,” she said. “We have a lot a of freshmen, but the upperclassmen show us what to do and we are getting a lot of experience along the way.”
Ruston High School’s team placed both in the diesel prototype and gasoline prototype competitions.

Competing against high school and university teams around the world, the team place sixth in the diesel prototype and 11th in the gasoline prototype competitions.

In addition to placing in the competitions, RHS senior Madison Wooley was selected as one of the 12 students from across the country to participate in a special session with Shell executives and scientists.

This year, the team is in the process of building the newest car — Bearcat III — and updated the older vehicle Bearcat II.

The teams’ teacher and co-sponsor Randall Elliott said their goal is to rank higher in the prototype gasoline category, the Bearcat II, and rank in the UrbanConcept design, Bearcat III.

Wooley said updates to Bearcat II and the building of Bearcat III have gone smoothly.
“We’ll finish right before the competition,” she said. “We have to make sure all the nuts and bolts are working before we turn it on.”

For now, the biggest help the Ruston High School team needs, is donations, senior Caisey Baster said.

“We’ll take any donations or sponsors,” she said. “We need the funding for the construction and help getting (to Detroit for the competition).”

In order to donate, sponsor or donors can email rhsecocar@gmail.com, dustinwhitlock@gmail.com or pick up a form from NewTech @ Ruston to make a donation.
“This team works hand in hand together and we’re proud,” senior Justin Griffin said. “We could use all the help we can get.”

Elliott said this year the team went through an interview process to pick the students.

“We want to show the community how the students are taking everything they have learned in school and applied it to this program,” he said. “These are great students working together for one common goal.”

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