Virginia Tech students create muscle car to capture gold

Virginia Tech students create muscle car to capture gold (WSET).

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WSET) -- A muscle car that's good for the environment. Sounds like a contradiction, right?

A group of Mechanical Engineering students at Virginia Tech are counting on it to capture gold in the EcoCAR3 competition put on by General Motors.

"We get all the fun of a muscle car, but we also get that fulfilling feeling where we help the environment," said senior Patrick Brew.

They did that by turning the Camaro into a hybrid muscle car.

For the competition, every school involved got a V-6 Camaro. It was then up to them to make the car environmentally friendly.

The team at Virginia Tech upgraded the engine to a V-8, but added elements to make it a hybrid vehicle. All of the other competitors chose to downgrade their engines to just 4 cylinders.

"Our efficiency is a little worse than an I-4, but still much better than what you would see in a V-8. We can use our electric motor to get more performance than we would get through an I-4," said Brew.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands took the Hokie-Mobile for a ride and was impressed. "My wife and I have a hybrid, so I'm familiar with hybrid vehicles, but this is a V-8. It's the best of both worlds," he said with a huge smile across his face.

Sands is so impressed with the car, he says he's thinking of making a bet with Ohio State, Tech's biggest competitor. "I might have to talk to President Drake," said Sands. He explained that he ran into Ohio State President Michael Drake on Tuesday, but at the time didn't know that the Buckeyes were the Hokies EcoCAR3 rivals. When asked about a bet, Sands said, "I'll have to follow up." He didn't elaborate on what the terms of the bet might be.

Virginia Tech hopes to win big, but even if they don't take home the gold, the students will still be winning when it comes to future jobs. Keith Van Houten works for General Motors and is the mentor for the team at Virginia Tech. He explained, these students are more qualified that others who simply have classroom training. "Working on this project is like being an engineer, because it's collaborative, it's multi-disciplinary, you have work on different things," said Van Houten.

These Hokies will also win regardless of the outcome because they are being proactive in combating global warming. "Reducing greenhouse gas and petroleum use are two of our main goals," said Brew.

Sands said, that work to protect the environment is something the whole campus is working on.

"We've got students all over the university in every program looking at this problem of climate change and the impact it's going to have on cities, on the way people live, on our power system, energy systems, the transportation. So, it's not just the vehicle, it's the whole system and the whole world we live in," said Sands. He continued, saying "We want our students to have as many of those experiences as possible because we're going to need, as a society, we're going to need to figure these problems out, and I think Virginia Tech students, Hokies, are going to have a big roll in that solution."

The students have about 4 weeks to put the finishing touches on the car before they head up to Michigan for the competition.

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