shell ecoA team of UAB mechanical and materials engineering students will compete this weekend in the Shell Eco-Marathon in Houston, Texas.

The team, made up of Nick Iannuzzi, Brandon Caterinichia, Shaylin Gehring, and John Herring designed and built a gasoline-powered, fuel-efficient vehicle as their senior design project. The car will compete against other cars built by college teams from North and South America.

“The competition consists of 10 laps around a track, for a total of six miles,” says Caterinichia. “You have to finish the laps to qualify, and at the end, they measure the fuel you have left. We expect to finish the race with our car getting at least 100 miles per gallon.”

The car will be the the first at this competition to have a carbon-fiber frame, an innovation the group came up with to make the car more lightweight. That innovation, however, presented certain challenges the group had to overcome to complete the project.

“There were some issues mounting different materials, such as aluminum, to the carbon-fiber frame, so we had to do some research to figure out the best way to attach those components,” says Iannuzzi.

The Eco-Marathon car was one of two car projects designed by engineering seniors this year. The other was an electric car that finished in second place in a race at Barber Motorsports earlier in the spring.

To learn more about the two projects, check out the videos below.