Disrupting Tradition, Driving Exciting Innovation
The Namibia Eco Riders, a mixed male and female team of young, bright and aspiring engineering students, are preparing to leave for South Africa next week to participate in the ultimate energy efficiency challenge organized by Shell.
This is after many months of hard work and precision engineering and endless hours of fine-tuning to get the eco-friendly electric vehicle ready for the challenge at the Zwartkops Racetrack, a professional circuit, in Tshwane, South Africa.
The team is made up of students in the Faculty of Engineering and the Innovation Design Lab of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). “The competition is not about speed, energy efficiency. We want to see how many kilometres we can travel on one litre of fuel. That is the ultimate challenge for us,” one of the students said.
The Shell Eco-Marathon, one of the world’s leading energy efficiency competition programme, challenges student teams around the world to design, build, test and drive ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. Students take their designs to the track to see which vehicle can compete to go the farthest on the least amount of fuel. The team will compete in the electric mobility category in which vehicles are powered by hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-based batteries.
Over several days, teams make as many attempts as possible to travel the furthest on the equivalent of one litre of fuel. Cars drive a fixed number of laps around the circuit at a set speed. Organizers calculate their energy efficiency and name a winner in each class and for each energy source. Off-track awards recognise other achievements including safety, teamwork and design. The competition inspires the engineers of the future to turn their vision of sustainable mobility into reality, if only for a few days. It also sparks passionate debate about what could one day be possible for cars on the road.
“It is not just about our engineering know-how or how we apply theory to practice or how we solve problems. We are making history in several ways, because we are the only University in Namibia to participate and we happen to be the only ladies on the team, so it is a matter of putting Namibia on the map by showing the world what we are made of,” said the students.