Steller Solar Offers Project LiveWire Experience

Harley-Davidson has unveiled its first all electric motorcycle and are giving consumers a chance to experience this new ride through its Project LiveWire Experience. The first event will take place in San Diego July 24, 2014-July 26, 2014 hosted by Stellar Solar and San Diego Harley-Davidson. Project LiveWire will be at the Morena Boulevard location with the main event taking place Saturday, July 26 from 12 – 4pm. All three days will feature complimentary solar powered food and beverages from the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station.

Stellar Solar Harley Project LiveWireFans who take a test ride will be able to give feedback to Haley-Davidson as they tweak their electric motorcycle – the electric bike is still under development. During the three-day event, consumers will also be able to participate through a Jumpstart simulator that provides an experience almost as good as the real thing.

Stellar Solar is connected with San Diego Harley-Davidson through General Manager Ty Miller who had a Stellar Solar system installed on his home. “When we received word that San Diego Harley-Davidson was going to be one of the first locations on the tour, the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station immediately came to mind as a perfect fit to help power the event,” Miller said. “Electric motorcycles and solar power complement each other nicely and we are happy to promote solar along side this innovative motorcycle.”

Kent Harle, CEO of Stellar Solar and avid motorcycle enthusiast is excited for the event. “I’ve been riding motorcycles for a long time and the Project LiveWire is a unique and very impressive machine. I’d buy one today if they were on the market. I can’t wait to test ride it. This is a perfect event for our Mobile Solar Station and we are proud to be associated with San Diego Harley-Davidson.”

City of Columbus Dedicates CNG Station

Columbus, Ohio is now home to its second compressed natural gas (CNG) station. The station was made possible in part from funds provided by Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO). CFO provides technical support for transportation professionals, advocates for sustainable transportation energy policies and serves as a resource clearinghouse for fleets, policy makers and the public.

“We have been so fortunate to assist a wide range of businesses and individuals in exploring the advantages of alternative fuels,” said CFO Executive Director Sam Spofforth. “We help each organization to look at the variety of options available to them, and, when available, help them get the grant funding they need to get their projects off the ground.”

sidebar4One way CFO does this is through the organization’s Driving Force Fleet Advisors which provide assessment and planning, project development assistance, funding strategies, monitoring, follow-up and training to fleet managers. Fleets can also gain certification and public recognition for their efforts through CFO’s Ohio Green Fleets.

When the City of Columbus began its move to alternative fuel vehicles, there was little infrastructure in the state for compressed natural gas (CNG) explained Kelly Reagan, the city fleet administrator. “Mayor (Michael) Coleman made the commitment that we would build our own fueling infrastructure to support this alternative vehicle program.”

The city now operates two public access fast-fill CNG stations, with two additional stations planned, which will be open to the public. In addition, the city operates two electric vehicle charging stations that are also open to the public. “Clean Fuels Ohio gave us the opportunity to start down this road,” said Mayor Coleman. “They provided the resources we needed to start this program. They helped us get underway.”

In the case of Dillon Transport, partnering with a customer, Owens Corning, provided a pathway to a multi- state project. “Our work with Clean Fuels Ohio resulted in an attractive funding package that appealed to our customer,” explained Dillion Transport Vice President Charles Musgrove. The company has converted 17 Ohio trucks to natural gas, and fuels through an expanding network of public stations in Ohio. The company has a similar operation with the customer in Florida. In addition, Dillon Transport is increasing its use of CNG vehicles nationwide.

Ultimately, the cost of fossil fuels and a concern for sustainability have motivated many fleets to make the commitment to alternative fuel vehicles. “Companies began really needing to find answers, once it was obvious that fuel prices were going to remain high,” added Spofforth. “Companies want to do the right thing – but they don’t quite know how to put the pieces together, get funding and make the choices they need to make. We’ve been able to help many varied fleets look at those options and make the decisions that lead them to sustainability.”

In 2011 and 2013, the City of Columbus was named the #1 Government Green Fleet in North America, and continues to be a role model for fleets considering transitioning to alternative fuels.

Utilities Promote EV Use, Charging

According to a new benchmark study by Northeast Group, electric utilities are beginning to do their part to enable EV growth by offering new tariff and rate structures tailored specifically for EV owners. For the past three year, EV sales have nearly doubled every year in the U.S. There are currently 25 utilities across 14 states offering EV tariffs, including eight of the largest 15 utilities. Regulators are also taking action and Minnesota recently became the first state to mandate that electric utilities offer EV tariffs.

“In the currently shifting landscape, utilities are finding it increasingly important to better engage with their customers. A key part of this is new customer offerings such as electric vehicle tariffs,” said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. “EVScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.35.38 AM owners tend to be more engaged customers and it is critical that utilities are providing them with new rate options for their EVs.”

According to the report, EV rates typically give steeper discounts at night and during other off-peak hours. Across the 14 states with EV tariffs, the average equivalent “price per gallon” was $0.75. Without EV-specific tariffs, the US Department of Energy calculated that the cost of an “eGallon” was $1.42. The average cost of gasoline in these states was $3.70.

“EV owners are an increasingly important focus for utilities,” added Gardner. “On average, they consume more electricity — not even counting electricity consumed by the EV — and are more likely to have solar panels installed at their home. EV tariffs that offer overall lower prices while encouraging off-peak charging are a great way to engage these customers.” Northeast Group found that 95 of the 100 largest utilities in the US had EV-specific information on their websites for customer engagement purposes.

Utilities that still do not offer special EV rates can make new rate offerings part of broader customer engagement efforts. These broader customer engagement efforts may include social media, mobile apps and new customer offerings.

Northeast Group’s benchmark found that in total, over 21 million utility customers across 25 electric utilities in 14 states had access to EV tariffs in the US. This number is set to grow over the coming years as EV sales grow and regulators begin encouraging EV tariffs.

Georgia State Fleet Looking to Ramp Up With Ethanol

The Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Rally has ended after two weeks of crisscrossing the state to promote alternative fuels. According to the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, the success of the rally could increase the use of ethanol in FFVs.

Todd Sneller talks ethanolTodd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board and a board member of the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, spoke with government officials and fleet managers throughout the state and visited four cities last week. “Over the course of two weeks our team met with nearly three hundred fleet management personnel and local municipalities to provide them with information on the ethanol option,” said Sneller. “I am pleased to report that the Georgia state Government is preparing to energize the E85 initiative at the state level. The state has nearly five thousand FFVs in service but they need to facilitate more efficient fuel supply logistics. Several large county fleets are also moving toward E85 since we explained the potential cost savings.”

The Clean Fuels Development Coalition and the Clean Fuels Foundation, Growth Energy, the Kansas and Nebraska Corn Growers, and a number of agriculture and ethanol supporters were among the sponsors of the tour which is designed to increase consumer and fleet operator awareness for alternative fuels. The FlexFuel Awareness Campaign is focusing on the FFvmessage that high level ethanol blends and FFVs are an option for private and government fleets and that they can be very competitive among the family of legally defined alternative fuels.

Sneller noted that fleet managers are looking to use cleaner fuels within the tight budgets they are facing. Ethanol continues to offer attractive pricing but an inefficient fuel delivery system is subverting the potential price advantage to fleet managers and consumers. In addition, there is a great need for consumer awareness and to work with retail outlets that serve both fleets and individual consumers.

“As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix,” Sneller concluded.

Wisconsin Students Go to School with Propane

Lamers Bus Lines and Badger Bus are increasing their use of propane autogas. Lamars Bus Lines has recently added 41 new Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses expanding its propane fleet to 59 buses. The buses will transport students in Milwaukee Public Schools and feature Blue Bird’s extended range 100-gallone fuel tank. Each bus will travel nearly 9,000 miles each year.

In the past year, Lamers Bus Lines said they have saved over $14,000 in fuel costs by Blue Bird Vision Propane Busswitching to Blue Bird Propane Vision buses. The company is currently installing an onsite 30,000-gallon fueling dispenser that will service the new Milwaukee propane autogas buses.

“Our propane buses have been completely trouble-free,” said Allen Lamers, president of Lamers Bus Lines. “We’ve had no issues what-so-ever on them and the deployment has been smooth. We received comprehensive training from our local dealer, Wisconsin Bus Sales, along with Roush CleanTech and our local propane provider. From all aspects, the buses are logical, simple and require minimal adaptation. Propane autogas is a great option for school buses and we couldn’t be more pleased with our fleet.”

Badger Bus, has been successfully operating propane autogas school buses for the past two years. The contractor is adding 16 new Blue Bird Propane Vision buses, expanding its total propane fleet to 20. The new propane buses will transport students in Madison Metropolitan School District.

The company has a 2,000 gallon propane autogas tank onsite and is currently paying $1.19 per gallon for fuel – a significant savings over its diesel price of $3.48 per gallon. Each buses travels between 12,000 to 14,000 miles each year, and Badger Bus said they are seeing an average annual fuel savings of over $3,500 per bus.

“Badger Bus has been known for its reliable transportation since our founding in 1920. Our experience with Blue Bird’s propane autogas buses has been a very positive, economical experience. Our drivers love the power and quiet operation, our technicians love the ease of service and simplistic engine, and the domestic, affordable fuel provides us with even greater benefits,” said John Meier, co-owner of Badger Bus. “Overall safety is of paramount importance with the students we transport and the safety and environmental benefits of these buses further strengthen our partnership with the community.”

FFV’s, Ethanol Featured During FlexFuel Campaign

The second week of the Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Rally is underway as part of the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, and one message of focus delivered by the ethanol and agriculture industries was that of the benefits of high level ethanol blends and flex fuel vehicles (FFvs). FFVs and ethanol blends are an option for private and government fleets, according to the Clean Fuels Foundation, one of the lead sponsors of the event. FFVs and ethanol can be very competitive among the family of legally defined alternative fuels.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle RoadshowDuring the Georgia events, Clean Fuels Executive Director Doug Durante gave a series of presentations and media interviews and took the opportunity to remind people that this is about clean air, consumer choice and energy independence. “With prices jumping once again as a result of instability in the middle east, we can fight back with domestic alternatives. In the case of flex fuels this is an easy, immediate choice we can make to take advantage of the 20 million FFVs in use by fleets and consumers,” said Durante.

The Alternative Fuel Road Show, now in its 4th year, is America’s largest clean fuel vehicle educational tour and is designed to reach fleet managers, civic leaders, and state legislators to help them make informed decisions about transitioning to clean, alternative transportation fuels. The 2014 Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Show kicked off at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta with a media event and a workshop for fleet managers. The Show will roar through 8 cities in total in Georgia, all with media and workshop events.

Durante praised the efforts of the military to lead by example as the tour visited the massive Warner Robins Air Force base in Georgia which is aggressively using E85 on base. The FlexFuel vehicles are required to fill up on E85 and the staff has implemented several creative approaches to ensure they do so.

He also commended Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols who created the tour and attends every session. “Mr. Echols is equally supportive of natural gas and propane, electric vehicles, and E85 and is working to get more flex fuel pumps in the state. He drives a personal FFV running on E85 and is on a mission to reduce petroleum use in every way possible. We truly appreciate what he is doing for the state and the alternative fuels movement,” said Durante.

“As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix,” Durante concluded.

Durante also noted that many of the city and fleet managers they met with were very interested in getting a better understanding of the options that FlexFuel Vehicles provide, including being able to use any combination of gasoline ethanol blends.

Higher Ethanol Blends Campaign Expands

The 4th annual Alternative Fuel Road Show is kicking off in Georgia to educate consumers about the benefits of higher blends of ethanol. The FlexFuel Awareness Campaign is sponsored in part by Growth Energy, the Kansas and Nebraska Corn and Ethanol Boards along with several others. The roadshow is the largest clean fuel vehicle educational tour and is designed to reach fleet managers, civic leaders and state legislators to help them make informed decisions about transitioning to clean, alternative fuels.

Alternative Fuel Road ShowFlex Fuel Vehicles and ethanol blends are an option for fleet managers that we want to make sure they understand,” said Doug Durante, executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition and manager of the Awareness Campaign. “On a cost per mile basis various ethanol blends can be very competitive and offer fleet managers true flexibility.”

The eight city tour kicks off in Georgia June 17, 2014 with the 2014 Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Show at the Georgia International Convention Center. Each event will include workshop events.

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy noted that along with increasing the E15 market, high level ethanol blends are key to expanding the domestic ethanol market and breaking through the blend wall. “Flex fuel use in fleets can be an important piece of the puzzle as we continue to back out imported oil, create jobs, and improve air quality,” said Buis.

Durante added, “As part of an ‘all of the above’ approach, this Road Show showcases all the alternative fuels, and they all have their strengths and advantages in a given situation. We are pleased to be part of this successful effort and make sure biofuels like ethanol are in the mix.”

Following the Georgia road show the program will move to the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC Metropolitan area with numerous events planned throughout the region. In addition to the FlexFuel Awareness Campaign, other sponsors and contributing organizations include the Atlanta Clean Cities Program, the Georgia Public Service Commission, Nissan Motors, and many others.

Georgia Wants Fleet Mgrs to Get Alt Fuel Facts

GAaltfuel1Officials in Georgia want municipal and private fleet managers to get the good news and the facts about alternative fuels in the state. The state is holding an eight-city series of events that talk about the latest in electric vehicle charging stations, E85 and B20 pumps, flex-fuel vehicles, CNG filling opportunities, and more, during the 4th Annual Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow, June 17-26th

Registration and more information is available here.

GM Fuel Cell Vehicles Surpasses 3 Million Miles

General Motors’ fleet of fuel cell vehicles has surpassed the three million mile mark running on hydrogen-power. According to GM, some individual vehicles have accumulated more than 120,000 miles and by using hydrogen, the fleet has avoided 157,894 gallons of gasoline consumption. This specially equipped fleet of Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles are part of GM hydrogen-powered Chevrolet EquinoxGM’s 119-vehicle Project Driveway program, which launched in 2007. Since then, more than 5,000 drivers have provided feedback on the functionality and drivability of fuel cell technology.

“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is an important part of GM’s advanced propulsion portfolio and we continue to make substantial progress in furthering this technology,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s global fuel cell engineering activities. “These vehicles have operated through seven full winters and a wide range of environmental conditions, proving that fuel cells can meet the demands of real-world drivers.”

GM has announced several fuel cell-related collaborations over the past few years. In July, 2013, GM and Honda announced a long-term collaboration to co-develop next-generation fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems, aiming for potential commercialization in the 2020 time frame. In addition, GM and Honda are working together with stakeholders to further advance refueling infrastructure, which is critical for the long-term viability and consumer acceptance of fuel cell vehicles.

Also last year GM opened a new state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development Laboratory at GM Powertrain World Headquarters in Pontiac, Mich. In September, 2013 GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center (TARDEC) jointly announced an expansion of their relationship for testing automotive fuel cell technology.

EV Bus Breaks Miles Traveled Record

A battery electric bus has traveled more than 700 miles in 24 hours – setting a record for the most miles traveled in one day by an EV bus. The EV bus was built by Proterra and recorded an average fuel economy of nearly 27 miles per gallon. The company says this is almost six times that of a diesel bus and seven time that of compressed natural gas (CNG). The record was set as part of normal testing conducted on Proterra buses before they are delivered.

Proterra_V2_rearThe bus used for this test is set to go into revenue service (i.e. be used by cities for public transportation) in the Southeastern United States within the next few months.

“This record offers definitive proof that all-electric Proterra buses combine all the durability and functionality of conventional buses, while significantly reducing total cost of ownership, fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions,” said Garrett Mikita, CEO, Proterra Inc. “We are even more proud of the fact that we demonstrated this performance using a regular production bus with the same features and performance we build into all our buses.”

The test was conducted in mid-April on a route designed to simulate both commuter and central business district routes and drive cycles. The bus operated at an average speed of 24 miles per hour with the HVAC system running and was charged periodically throughout the day, using Proterra’s proprietary fast-charging process. This technology allows a bus to fully charge in less time than it takes to charge a cell phone.

Proterra says it is the only EV bus manufacturer with buses currently in revenue service in the United States. Its buses operate in San Antonio, Texas; Reno, Nevada; Stockton and Pomona, California and Tallahassee, Florida. Deliveries scheduled for Nashville and Louisville, Tennessee among others cities.

Allliance Autogas Adds Two New Members

Alliance AutoGas has added two new members to its propane autogas conversion national network: Green Country Alternative Fuels based in Claremore, Oklahoma and Tornabene Alliance Autogas LogoAuto Sales and Service based in Pownal, Vermont. With a network of more than 90 members, Alliance Autogas installs propane refueling infrastructure, coordinates propane autogas vehicle conversions and provides vehicle maintenance support and training.

“It is of the highest importance that Alliance AutoGas provides a quality support network and keep the vehicles running on the road,” said Stuart Weidie, president of Alliance AutoGas.

Ty Burnett, Owner Green Country Alternative Fuels, Inc. said of joining the Alliance, “We are excited about starting a partnership with Alliance AutoGas. The wide range of vehicle applications and attention to quality and detail is very important to us. We feel this alliance will be very beneficial to our company as well as to our customers.”

Jody Tornabene, president of the family-owned retail and repair business Joe Tornabene’s Auto Sales and Service added, “We see this as the wave of the future and it’s a natural fit for our business to enter the alternative fuel conversion market. Propane is a great source of alternative fuel, as is about 35 percent cheaper and 60 percent cleaner than diesel and gasoline. Our garage has two bays that will be set up to complete the propane conversions and we are looking forward to providing new jobs in our region that is in need of an economy boost.”

Denver Clean Cities Helps Reduce Gas Use

Coloradans are breathing cleaner air with the help of the Denver Metro Clean Cities (DMCCC). Utilizing alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, stakeholders displaced 5.88 million gallons of gasoline in 2013. This prevented 27,000 tons of greenhouse gases and air pollutants from entering the atmosphere – equivalent to the carbon dioxide generated by approximately 90,000 homes during five days.

electricvehicleparkingClean Cities is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. Colorado is home to three such coalitions, which cumulatively helped stakeholders displace 10.2 million gallons of gasoline and 49,000 tons of greenhouse gases last year.

Tyler Svitak, the Clean Cities Manager at the American Lung Association in Colorado, described how the program works. “We assist public and private vehicle fleets, local governments, fuel providers, utilities, and other stakeholders in beginning or expanding an alternative fuel portfolio, which often involves education, technical guidance, or connection to a similar project locally or nationally.”

The City and County of Denver has had a close relationship with Clean Cities since its inception in 1993, and as the City’s fleet continues to look toward innovative ways to save money and reduce emissions, Clean Cities is assisting in the process.

“The Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition has been a valuable resource for Denver for years, helping educate our City about alternative fuels and opportunities to implement them,” said Felix Espinoza, Denver Public Works’ Fleet Management Director. “Our partnership with Clean Cities has furthered our goals of incorporating alternative fuels and green technologies that improve air quality, lower operating costs, and provide a healthy, livable, and connected city.”

Svitak explains that harnessing alternative transportation fuels like electricity, natural gas, and propane can dramatically reduce pollutants coming from vehicle tailpipes, increase our nation’s energy security, and boost local economies, but what is often a more convincing argument is the amount of money saved in operating costs from using these alternatives.

Last quarter the average national price of natural gas was $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent (the amount of energy in natural gas it takes to equal the energy of one gallon of gasoline), propane was $2.43/gallon, and electricity was $1.16 per eGallon (the electrical energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline), and for fleets or consumers traveling enough miles, the payback over the life of a vehicle can be significant.

Though, there are still significant challenges to the widespread adoption of alternative fuels and Clean Cities helps to overcome those through education, knowledge, and training. Refuel Colorado, a Colorado Energy Office project aimed at increasing alternative fuel use in the state, incorporates an energy ‘coaching’ program where organizations like Clean Cities, Garfield Clean Energy, and 4CORE help fleets and local governments understand the factors influencing their bottom line, including lifecycle ROI analysis to help look at the long term savings instead of the initial investment.

Shell Eco-Marathon Seeks Most Energy Efficient Car

The North America leg of the Shell Eco-Marathon will kick off in Houston, Texas April 25-27, 2014. The event brings hundreds of high school and college students from around the world together to showcase their energy efficient cars. The winning team’s car will travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

For the Houston leg, Linde North America will be the supplier of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Mike Beckman, vice president Hydrogen Fueling, said, “Shell chose Linde as its exclusive worldwide hydrogen supplier because it wanted a solid and technically capable global partner for all of its Eco-marathon events around the world.” The first event of 2014 was held in Manila, Philippines, in February; Rotterdam, Netherlands, will be the site for the May event.

Shell Eco-marathon is also an educational platform, giving innovators practical experience of developing smarter, sustainable transportation. “We’re excited about the opportunity to work 2014 Shell Eco Marathon Prototype Concept Carwith this highly motivated and skilled group of future engineers that falls in line with our support for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative,” Beckman added. “These young people are our future, and we’re happy to support this effort.”

Linde will be working with eight teams whose vehicles will require hydrogen, and will be providing valuable technical support and advice to the student teams from North and South America.

“The Shell Eco-marathon is a unique competition that challenges students to design, build and drive the world’s most energy-efficient car,” said Norman Koch, Technical Director Shell Eco-marathon. “We are very pleased to partner with Linde for the fourth consecutive year supporting these students to develop energy efficient mobility solutions for the future.”

The Houston event will be held at Discovery Green Park and George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

UPS Expands Propane Commitment

Delivery giant UPS is expanding its commitment to propane. The company has announced plans to purchase 1,000 propane delivery trucks and will also install 50 fueling stations at UPS locations. The investment in propane vehicles and infrastructure is nearly $70 million.

The expanded propane fleet will replace gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles in many rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma. The company says trucks along these rural routes can travel up to 200 miles on a tank of propane. The trucks will beginning hitting the roads my mid-year. UPS is considering adding propane trucks to other states.

Propane_PERC_UPS_049_preview“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “Propane meets those criteria as a clean-burning fuel that lowers operating costs and is readily accessible, especially on rural routes in the United States. States that attract this type of investment with tax incentives and grants will factor into the UPS deployment strategy.”

UPS tested 20 propane-powered brown delivery trucks this past winter in Gainesville, Georgia, and expanded its order with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. UPS uses a “rolling laboratory” approach to test different fuel sources and technologies according to their route characteristics. The new propane fleet is expected to travel more than 25 million miles and to displace approximately 3.5 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel per year.

“The opportunity to road test new propane vehicles and fueling equipment with one of the most sophisticated fleets in the country is a major milestone for the propane industry,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). UPS and PERC worked with equipment manufacturers to secure certifications with the EPA and California Air Resources Board. “This announcement is the culmination of many entities bringing together the best in propane technology to achieve the greatest economic and environmental results.”

UPS has one of the largest alternative fuel fleets in the country.

Innovation Challenge Leads to Cool Innovation

Innovation Challenge 2The 2014 Northrop Grumman Corporation High School Innovation Challenge (HSIC) has led to some, well, cool innovations in renewable energy and engineering. On February 21, 2014, six student teams from Los Angeles, California high schools took an engineering problem, limited budget and little time and created renewable energy-powered model vehicles. The event was part of National Engineers Week.

The challenge is modeled after a Northrop Grumman program or engineering capability, and designed to stimulate student interest in pursuing careers in scientific or engineering fields. The goal of this year’s competition was to design and build a renewable-energy-powered model vehicle that could carry a payload as efficiently as possible over a set distance.

“The Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge exposes students to the major steps required to develop, document and demonstrate an engineering concept,” said Krystal Puga, a systems engineer on Northrop Grumman’s James Webb Space Telescope project and the company’s HSIC deputy coordinator. “It teaches them how to develop, document and present their ideas; manage a schedule and budget; and prove that their concept meets the customer’s requirements.”

The teams participating in this year’s HSIC included the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson; Da Vinci Science High School in Hawthorne; El Segundo High School; Lennox Math, Science and Technology Academy in Inglewood; Hawthorne Math and Science in Hawthorne; and Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates.

Over the course of the 12-week competition, the HSIC teams – each one mentored by a Northrop Grumman engineer – were graded on their ability to develop and document their vehicle’s design in a written report; present the concept orally to a panel of engineers; and prove the vehicle’s performance on the test track. Continue reading