Skip to main content

Hybrid Power: Engineering Students Drive Into the Future

Engineering students at UC San Diego are fine-tuning their hand-built hybridelectric car to compete against other universities across the nation next year. The students, who are members of the UC San Diego Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) built their first Formula Hybrid car last year using a $15,000 grant from Plug In America, a nonprofit organization that works to accelerate the shift to plug-in vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity. The team, which competed against 30 other universities, placed 9th out of 21 teams overall in the Formula Hybrid International Competition held in new Hampshire in Spring 2009. Next year's competition will also be in late Spring.

A Formula Hybrid vehicle must use at least 15 percent less gasoline than a comparable standard Formula SAE racecar operated under the same conditions. And, unlike the traditional Formula SAE gas-powered car, Formula Hybrid teams are encouraged to incorporate used racecar parts rather than build everything from scratch. Next year's UCSD SAE car will be a full hybrid with an on board generator.

"We decided to build an electric car because of the support and push from industry," said Jerry Curiel, former president of the UC San Diego SAE who graduated from the Jacobs School in the Spring with a degree mechanical engineering. "It also reflects the goals of UCSD to become the 'greenest' university in the United States. More importantly, it's a great opportunity to make green technologies fun and exciting in the eyes of our fellow students."

UC San Diego Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and their first Formula Hybrid car
UC San Diego Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and their first Formula Hybrid car
UC San Diego Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and their first Formula Hybrid car

Print Article