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Eco Car Building Teams head to International Houston Competition


Dated April 10, 2014


Contact: EB Holderman, 360.283.4305

Seven Days until Eco Cars will load onto Trailer for Houston Competition!

Granite Falls' students leave for Houston, Texas, April 23rd for the 2014 Shell Eco-marathon Americas®, a high-profile international event that challenges High School and college students to design and build a car that will travel the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel. For the 5th time Granite Falls has entered two teams in the competition. They are the only team from Washington State.

The ShopGirls and the UrbanAutos teams (a total of 15 students who will be going to the event this year) will submit two competitive, fuel-efficient vehicles. This year, both teams have built two brand new cars in a desire to produce their most successfully raced car yet. Both new cars have a modern aerodynamic design. The UrbanAutos' body is built with the stitch and glue plywood method and the ShopGirls' body is made out of fiberglass, prepared from a mold on loan from Dr. Seal of Western Washington University. The chassis of the UrbanAutos' car is welded aluminum, and the ShopGirls have a chassis of 80/20 aluminum stock with a fiberglass bottom.

"The competition heightens their drive and passion," said Michael Werner, the class educator and team coach.  "Both of the teams have managed each aspect of this real-world project, designing and building their individual cars to be as fuel efficient as possible." Werner added, "I challenge them to think outside the box.  It is their creation and it's what they make of it."

The Eco Teams started in 2009 with a grant for women in nontraditional roles. This sparked the beginning of the ShopGirls team; they were the First All-Girls Team to ever compete in the Shell Eco-marathon. Both the all-girls team and co-ed team, the UrbanAutos, have had great successes thus far. Inspired by the innovation and experience, eco-program members have managed to secure educations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Washington State University and the University of Washington.

Out of 83 teams with 121 cars at the competition last year, Granite Falls was one of a handful of high schools; most teams are university level from both North and South America. The ShopGirls have achieved a best of 520 mpg and the UrbanAutos a mileage of 244 mpg, earning them a 2nd place trophy and $1000 last year. Werner shared his enthusiasm for the program "exposure to these types of opportunities provides our students the pathway from Play in elementary school to developing a Passion in High School to joining a Purpose in the working world." Werner has experience with endurance race cars, antique airplane restoration and educating students in the manual arts.  

Students involved in the eco-car class meet every day afterschool for a 7th period manufacturing credit. The two teams worked every day during spring break and have been working every day since-7 days a week-until their cars departure date, April 17th, to make the long trip down to Houston in preparation for the competition on the 25th. Sponsors this year include: Staheli's Progressive Tooling, Fiberglass Supplies, Columbia River Mandrel Bending, Midway Plywood, Pro-Wheel, IGA Market, H&L Sports, MoutainLoop Express, plus countless hours of Volunteer and Parent help.

The Shell Eco-marathon invites teams to enter streamlined vehicles focused on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements. Energy sources include solar, battery power, diesel, bio-diesel, gasoline, and even hydrogen. The ShopGirls have a goal of 1600 MPG and a car weight under 100 lbs. The UrbanAutos have a goal of 550 MPG and a car weight under 250 lbs.

Interviews with students and photo/video opportunities can be arranged by calling EB Holderman at 360.283.4305.


"2013 Best Web Documentary" at the International Cannes Corporate Media and TV awards. As part of the experience, both teams were featured in the Brightest Road Documentary that was part of the Road to Houston Documentary Series that was released last spring, 2013.  There were a record number of 719 series submissions representing 40 countries at this International Competition and this series submitted by our students surpassed them all to achieve this highly prestigious award, "2013 Best Web Documentary."  Watch the film to see more about their bright future!

• KCP-Q13 Fox News covered the story last year:

• The Herald covered the story last year:

• KING 5 TV covered the story of the teams in 2010: 5.

• Team website:

• The Road to Houston Documentary Series was awarded "2013 Best Web Documentary" at the International Cannes Corporate Media & TV awards!  It is also featured on YouTube!

• Shell Eco-marathon Americas® website:


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