A BAND of young engineers from Mapúa Institute of Technology emerged as champions among 30 student teams in the 2017 Shell Eco-marathon Philippines, a challenger event hosted by Shell Pilipinas, held recently at the Clark International Speedway in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Team Aguila, led by their adviser Professor Sherwin Magon, triumphed with their ultra-lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicle, Aguila IV, a three-wheeled prototype gasoline category vehicle, built for maximum aerodynamics. It utilizes lightweight design techniques such as carbon fiber body panels and light but high-tensile-strength aluminum alloy tubings for the internal frame.
“Aguila IV is the embodiment of Team Cardinals’ six-year effort to build, test, and compete for the most fuel-efficient vehicle in all of Asia, and later, the world,” Magon shared. Team Cardinals is composed of Team Aguila and Team Hiraya for the urban concept category of the competition.
“To maximize weight savings, parts were either specially designed in-house or acquired through our partner sponsors. Since safety of the driver and all other surroundings is paramount, we designed the vehicle to be very strong yet flexible enough to absorb shocks and also to protect the driver if an accident were to happen,” Magon said.
Mapúa has participated in the Shell Eco-marathon, an annual competition that invites student teams to design, build, and drive the most energy-efficient car, since it first launched in 2010. Magon said that the team’s success is due to the students’ ability to allocate their resources and to work together well, and to remain focused on their goal.
Magon pointed out that the biggest hurdle in designing and building Aguila IV—using the least amount of fuel for a certain distance covered—will continue to be addressed even after the competition. “This is still being resolved until this moment by constantly adjusting the behavior of the engine’s way of extracting all the potential energy of the fuel, and also changing the behavior of the driver in operating the vehicle depending on the track condition,” he stated.
Ultimately, Mapúa’s role in pushing the members of Team Aguila was instrumental to their victory. According to Magon, Mapúa encourages its students to participate in highly competitive events such as the Shell Eco-marathon to give the young engineers an opportunity to apply their knowledge outside the classroom setting.
“The wealth of knowledge gained from designing, building, testing, competing, and winning is invaluable,” shared Magon. “On top of this, competitions help in improving students’ communication skills.”
Magon shared that Team Aguila’s hard-won victory is envisioned to continue with future members of the team.
“Our success did not come overnight. The little successes that we have had in the past competitions were but a culmination of the knowledge and efforts of the previous Team Cardinals alumni, who eventually passed all their aspirations, yearnings and technologies to their apprentices,” he stated. “I still believe there is so much work to be done in order to be the most fuel-efficient team in all of Asia, but we will eventually get there, and then a new challenge will arise: conquering the world as the most fuel-efficient team.
Team Aguila and Hiraya will be competing in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia in Singapore on March 16-19.