24 July, 2014 / Ramazan 25, 1435

Students from one of the teams sit in one of the activity areas above the Sepang International Race Circuit, and the staff prepares the track below. – Photo by Nadir Siddiqui/Dawn.com

On the second day of the Shell Eco-Marathon on 5 July, student teams from 18 countries around Asia and the Middle East were busy testing and tweaking their cars for the impending competition.

The students’ cars are checked by officials who conduct technical inspections before the competition flags off tomorrow. This phase of the marathon is often the most challenging, because it is here that the cars made by students first come under the scrutiny of the Shell officials. Teams hurriedly prepare and anticipate the result, as their cars are put through stringent checks by the technical staff. Often after the initial check, a team can be seen scrambling to tweak their car’s brakes or chassis in time, because it was found slightly short of standards.

Teams preparing for the design check with their cars in one of the special pits where safety checks take place. – Photo by Nadir Siddiqui/Dawn.com

In this phase during last year’s competition, Pakistani teams faltered badly. While 22 teams had registered for the Shell Eco-Marathon 2011, nine made it to Kuala Lumpur, but only three teams actually reached the track because the rest of the cars had failed the technical inspections.

A ramp for the brake test, and car dimension tests can be seen in the above pictures, while a fuel measurement system is shown below. – Photo by Nadir Siddiqui/Dawn.com

This year, all teams are doing better in this phase, and so are the Pakistanis: “I hope to see a high percentage of total teams pass the safety tests this year” said HSE Specialist Jumari Mohammad, in the pit where the checks were going on, “this is the third year of the competition, so the students are learning each year, and the results get better.” (By noon on day three, 74 out of 119 cars have passed the tests, and five out of nine Pakistani teams have passed too, which is a big improvement from their performance last year)

“These students are very intelligent, they are just as smart as the students from the other nations and their technical knowledge is sound” says Abid Ibrahim, General Manager External Affairs at Shell Pakistan. Ibrahim explained that Pakistan’s major handicap is not the quality of their education, but investment and experience, “just imagine, cars from other teams can value up to $25,000, but Pakistani students are entering with $2000 cars and still competing.” (More on investing in the cars as well as constraints the Pakistani students face, to be discussed in a later post.)

Team Victory from NED, for example has a hydrogen engine in their prototype car, an under-explored fuel source that is very challenging to use. Nauman Ahmed, a team Mentor from Shell Pakistan pointed them out as one of the most dedicated and committed teams from Pakistan, “They are always the first to arrive and the last to leave” says Ahmed.

“There are no hydrogen fuel vehicles in Pakistan, so basically these guys are truly pushing the limits for themselves. This is a very good attitude, and in my opinion it is true innovation from a Pakistani team.”

NED’s Team Victory seen during their safety check with their hydrogen powered car in one of the pits. – Photo by Nadir Siddiqui/Dawn.com

Enthusiasm too, is in no short supply among the stronger Pakistani teams, “The team from NUST PNEC, has excellent communication and is showing a lot of initiative,” says Ahmed,“for example earlier they had made some changes to their car after filing their information, so they went to the judges directly in order to display these changes. No one else did this apart from them, and due to their initiative they are now shortlisted among eight finalists from 51 teams in the running for the Communications Award.”

There were also speeches from Shell executives, such as Mark Gainsborough and CFO Simon Henry who spoke about the company’s vision, and the goals behind the Eco-Marathon competition. The keynote speakers emphasised the importance of alternative fuel sources in the face of an imminent energy and environmental crises in the next fifty years.

According to Gainsborough, energy solutions will definitely involve more than one kind of alternative fuel rather than a “silver bullet” solution that involves a complete switch all around the world. The reason that the whole spectrum of alternative energy must be explored is because eventually, they may all be needed in different areas, such as countries and regions which have varying resources, visions and policies.

On 6 July the marathon will flag-off, and the students will begin to do laps in their cars to see who can achieve the highest fuel efficiency. Dawn.com will continue to bring you daily updates from the competition, so come back tomorrow to read more on the Pakistani teams and see how they do on the track!

Nadir Siddiqui is a photographer and multimedia journalist at Dawn.com.

Comments (29) (Closed)


Bob NY
Jul 07, 2012 01:23am
Nadir, once again a very succinct article. Thanks. Go Pakistan!
mohammad
Jul 07, 2012 02:49am
well done boys. wallah, the nation is proud of you. WE PRAY FOR YOUR GOOD LUCK AND BLESSINGS FROM ALLAH ON YOU. IF WE ACHIEVE SOMETHING SCIENTIFICALLY, THAT WILL HELP US DRIVE OUT FROM THIS ECONOMIC CRISES.
Dr Wequar Ali Khan
Jul 07, 2012 11:36am
If Pakistani students are provided the opportunity,and given open hand,they can deliver the goods. There is no dearth of talent rest assured.
Imran Aslam
Jul 07, 2012 11:34am
Nadir, excellent work, bringing detail for us,thank u... Our duas and best wishes are with our talented students...
Asif
Jul 06, 2012 06:51pm
These guys are making us proud. best of luck.
Nadir Siddiqui
Jul 06, 2012 07:35pm
Laeeq, I had a good interview with the team from GIKI today (day three) among others, so come back for the next article to read what they had to say and how they are faring!
Khurram
Jul 06, 2012 12:42pm
Excellent work and best wishes for the Pakistanis
Syd
Jul 06, 2012 05:12pm
well done. That's the kind of direction we would like to see for the ' New Pakistan' . great!!
dtariq1
Jul 06, 2012 11:44am
Hydrogen fueled cars..It can really be an innovative idea!!
Laeeq
Jul 06, 2012 12:51pm
What about the team from GIKI?
AJA
Jul 08, 2012 11:28pm
Excellent work. how about the team from UET (taxila)?
mohsin
Jul 08, 2012 07:32am
amazing work by pakistani students
Ashfaq
Jul 06, 2012 10:27pm
Good job guys. Keep it up
zeenat
Jul 06, 2012 05:23pm
well done boys, all prayers for your success. Pakistan Zindabad.
irfan
Jul 07, 2012 12:51pm
zabardast!!!!!
Tariq
Jul 07, 2012 11:50am
This is fantastic Pakistani students trying out alternative energy, Hyrdroxy fuel cell transport. Wish them all the success as this is one the fuels of the future.
Agha Rehmat Ali
Jul 08, 2012 09:00am
Best of Luck. May your goal achieved and you turned out successful. Ameen
Ozair Mirza
Jul 06, 2012 04:47pm
Good Luck NEDIANS
abc
Jul 06, 2012 02:25pm
Where is the team from COMSATS ???CUST should have sent their students as well
Shahzad Ghazi
Jul 06, 2012 04:24pm
Wish you and your team's 500km/l prototyp from GIKI the best!!!
Saj
Jul 06, 2012 11:47am
This is just so good to see. Wishing the Pakistanis do well. Make us proud !!. Plenty of talent in Pakistan , unfortunately we just don't have the funds etc to get the most of education.
Murtaza
Jul 06, 2012 11:47am
Well done Pakistani students... proud of you.... hopefully someday our governments will start focusing on science and technology to help steer Pakistan out of our economic woes.....
Rukh-e-zehra
Jul 06, 2012 12:02pm
wow that amazing work they did specially Ned student good job will be anxiously waiting for coming updates
Zain
Jul 07, 2012 05:54am
Considering that the Pakistani Team is able to make a Hydrogen car with extremely low budget of just $2,000 should be an achievement by itself. This shows the nature of Pakistanis in general. The whole country is surviving on innovators like these students who can achieve amazing results with very low budget. Almost all other Asian Countries' governments invest heavily in such University projects and also support the entire education of such brilliant students. The government of Pakistan and also Corporations should take initiative to promote Science and research in every field, this will result in benefitting the whole country tremendously far in the future. Just imagine if these students can make a Hydrogen powered car with such a low budget, what else they can achieve if they had $25,000 budget (12.5 times more than Pakistanis), like other Asian countries students have at their disposal.
sumaiyya
Jul 07, 2012 07:52am
wow....................best ov luck 2 awll ov them
ahmed salman
Jul 07, 2012 09:12am
well done all of you....proud to be uncle of one of them among this team.....
Umer
Jul 08, 2012 11:44am
Best of luck guys !!!
Abdul Moeez Peerwani
Jul 08, 2012 03:04pm
This is brilliant idea to use Hydrogen in cars as fuel.... espcially keeping in view its economic efficiency and perhaps the most environmental friendly technology... what more you need if the waste of your car is pure water...!! :P
abdullah
Jul 08, 2012 01:00am
got first position in the subcontinent