Sometimes even the best and bravest get overwhelmed under a mountain of midterms and assignments and projects. The EcoCar team has been a little lax on letting the outside world know what we’ve been up to, so we’re going to make up for it now that we can see 20 feet in front of us without having to worry about a harrowing assignment. We want to let you know about the progress that’s been made, and about the status of the team. Spoiler Alert: everything is awesome.
This week marks an exciting time in any year for the Eco Car team.
The team has been hard at work preparing for the arrival of a new cohort of engineers and innovators. After several weeks of attending events such as the engineering carnival, orientation, and the engineering expo in order to promote interest in the team, we finally got a first look at what will eventually be the future of our team. And let me tell you, it looks good.
Last weekend, as the new school year got into full swing, the Eco Car team returned from their various conquests of the warmer months to catch up and play some Mario Kart. Fearless team leader Balazs was kind enough to provide some love (in the form of breakfast — Kool-Aid Jammers!) for the members who attended the meeting with the hopes that his bribery could persuade the team to talk about the car instead of fixating on video games and Youtube videos. This was in vain, though we did manage to endow the new car with a name: Alice.
We got an early start today — we had to. This morning 15 cars in our category had passed tech inspection, but only four had gotten runs in. That meant that the starting queue would be a long line and might limit us to only one run. Ergo: an early start.
We got down to the car and double checked all connections and systems. Everything seemed in order so we pushed the car out to the starting queue. Even then there were already a number of teams ahead of us. Fortunately, the line progressed quickly and we were soon on the starting line with race officials performing their final checks in order to calculate our mileage.
Those of you who do things like notice what time a post is published will see that I am still up though it is the wee hours of the morning. What might be keeping me up? Certainly not our car, for it was working at end of today, and we decided there was no use fixing things that ain’t broke. The reason I lie awake is my undying love of Canada, but more specifically of the Canadian teams are that the Shell Eco-Marathon. Let me give you a quick run-down on the hierarchy and politics of Canada – don’t worry, Stephen Harper won’t be mentioned, although I will cover all of the juiciest insider gossip.
This morning we got into the queue for tech inspection the moment it opened. If we could make it through in the morning we’d be able to make the afternoon Urban Concept race. As we rolled up, the inspectors waved us through ahead of the queue and parked us next to the hydrogen station – they recognized us.
After a long day trying to get our little Steve through tech inspection (notoriously difficult for hydrogen teams), I had my own little adventure in the city of Houston. To begin with, tech inspection went quite well, and the Shell Eco-Marathon makes for a nice view, as always.
The safety technicians sent us home with just a few minor things to fix, one of which was the installation of a fuse within our auxiliary circuit. This is easy to do, except that we didn’t have any fuses. The team took a vote and decided that their project manager was the smelliest, and anyways the guys needs to the start pulling his weight on the team. I was sent on a journey with nothing but a 3-speed municipal rental bike
Early this morning we got up, enjoyed a breakfast taco or two, and got to the morning orientation and safety sessions. After registering and going through a safety briefing we were finally ready to get to work on the car – but first: pictures. All of the teams were congregated on the front lawn of the convention center for a big group photo. Even though it was only 8:30 am the sun was sweltering.
Two flights, a taxi ride, and a midnight unpacking of our crate later – we made it! And we only nearly lost Balazs once!
Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself as the new project manager of the University of Alberta EcoCar Team. I’ll be taking over Matt Sponiar’s responsibilities, and hopefully leading our team through the next few years of design, build, and competition. Actually, to say I’m the new project manager is a bit disingenuous; I’ve been in this role since around May of 2013, but for many months my team and I were occupied with vital tasks that had been left to us. That is why this post describes our return from hibernation: not only are we heading off to a new Shell Eco-Marathon, fiercer than ever, but also the weather has just recently started to thaw.