At James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, NC, students are doing more than just learning, they’re innovating. Students on the Shell Eco-marathon team work together to build high efficiency alternative fuel vehicles after school, competing against teams from high schools and colleges across the nation.

For the last five years, automotive instructor Ricky Lewis has volunteered his time to work with teams of students to build prototype and urban concept vehicles powered by gas-to-liquid fuel, E-100 ethanol fuel, and battery electric. Lewis says he finds the work rewarding and he enjoys seeing the progress the students make during their time on the team.

“It does feel good, especially when you see it take off,” said Lewis.

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James B. Dudley High School students and instructor Jeremy pose with their E-100 ethanol Shell Eco-marathon vehicle. Photo credit: James B. Dudley High School.

The James B. Dudley High School Shell Eco-marathon team does not receive funding from the school and depends on a combination of contributions and utilization of reused and repurposed parts to construct the vehicles.

“Part of the challenge is getting there. Everyone has the same rules, but when they show up to the competition everyone’s car looks different,” said Lewis.

Students must apply what they have learned in their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes to plan and build the vehicles for competition. Through this project, students learn how to think independently and gain teamwork skills they will use throughout their lives.

This challenge has opened up opportunities for the students they may not have had otherwise. The team has been featured on the Today Show, traveled to Detroit and other cities for competition, and met Jay Leno during the 2014 competition. The team will also be featured on an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage on NBC.

James B. Dudley High School has been a member of the NAFTC since 2011 and applies the information gained through NAFTC training programs as they build vehicles for competition.

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James B. Dudley High School students and instructor Ricky pose with their Shell Eco-marathon urban concept vehicle at the 2014 competition. Photo Credit: James B. Dudley High School.

For more information about becoming an NAFTC member, visit the MyNAFTC website.

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