A group of students of the University Of Lagos (UNILAG), who have built their own version of energy-efficient car for the international Shell Eco-marathon, narrates about the challenges they face and the future of such a prototype.
The mentioned event is being hosted by three continents. This year’s competition took place in Manila, Philippines, February 6-9, 2014, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, May 15-18, 2014 and Houston, the U.S.A., April 24-27, 2014.
* Parade during the opening ceremony of Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2014. Nigeria flags may be spotted in front. Photo credit - Ronny Rozenberg/AP Images for Shell
A reporter of The Nation, Tolu George, spoke to team manger Abraham Imohiosen.
Abraham, who is a 500 level Computer Engineering student at UNILAG, said that this year two more teams from Nigeria were building their fuel-efficient vehicles, in accordance with the invitation by Shell Nigeria: University of Benin (UNIBEN) and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU).
You may SEE the UNIBEN vehicle HERE.
The participants of Eco-marathon are divided into several energy types (Gasoline, Diesel, Battery Electric, Alternative fuel and Hydrogen) and two categories (Prototype or UrbanConcept). UNILAG team entered the Battery Electric category.
The purpose of Shell-funded project is use eco-friendly materials and to create a car, which would show on track the best speed possible at the lowest energy consumption possible. The price of the machine also matters.
* Participants gather for a group picture on day 1 of the Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2014, at the Ahoy Center, Rotterdam, on May 14, 2014, Thursday. Photo credit - Ermindo Armino/AP Images for Shell)
Every competition has a prize called communication award. It is usually granted to the team who succeeds in publicizing, communication with the people around and building a proper community around the project.
* UNILAG Car. Photo credit – The Nation
Abraham told that he gathered his team through some of the newspapers and through the UNILAG mobile. The supervising lecturers helped to pick the most-prepared students from the huge number of volunteers.
* UNILAG Car. Photo credit – The Nation
The first challenge of the group was lack of experience. However, the lecturers gave the proper support to the team and got the things going.
Secondly, some essential components, especially electrical, were not available in Nigeria. They had to be ordered in the UK and delivery time was quite long.
Thirdly, the lack of some tools and equipment slowed down the project. Some of the operations were completed manually.
Logistics challenges, misunderstanding between the students and the vendors and several other issues have also slowed them down.
* Driver of the UNILAG car in the cockpit. Photo credit – The Nation
But, according to Abraham, this was totally worth it. The six-month-long project was very engaging and allowed the whole team to learn more, to meet many interesting people.
The team realised that the newcomers stand no chance to beat the experienced and innovative competitors. The main focus is to meet the minimum technical requirements of the competition. Passing through this stage, qualifying for the race, may be considered as a small victory. The team plans to upgrade and optimise the vehicle for future competitions.
The team manager, Abraham Imohiosen, also did not forget to list some of the contributors:
Professor Mowete – Team Lead;
Dr Amuda, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Science;
Dr Balogun, Engr. Tunji, Engr. Mohammed, Department of Electrical Engineering;
Dr Gbeniyi, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Segun Adebayo, 400 level Mechanical Engineering;
Shade Agbaje, 400 level Mechanical Engineering;
Rueben, 200 level Materials Engineering;
Obinna Agba, 500 level Electrical Engineering;
Paula Aliyu, 500 level Computer Engineering;
David Emukpere, 500 level Computer Engineering;
Boye Abayomi, 500 level Materials and Metallurgical Engineering;
Ciramo Ojetunde, 400 level -> graduate, Creative Arts Dept.;
Tunji Salami, Department of Mass Communication;
Eze Owualah, Department of Chemical Engineering;
Emeka Author, Department of Chemical Engineering.
And many more...