July 4th, 2012 marks the culmination of the tremendous and laudatory efforts of the scintillating Team Eco Titans, as they gear up to participate in the Shell Eco Marathon, Asia which is to be conducted in Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia. Eco Titans is a team of engineering students from VIT University, Vellore working on the design and construction of a super mileage prototype, while keeping sustainability in mind. Currently consisting of 12 members, their journey so far has been no cakewalk but rather a painstaking struggle. Initially faced with a myriad of problems for the construction of the model, this bunch of 20-something college students braved all odds and has reached a platform where they are to compete with more than 120 teams from all of Asia.
Having participated in the contest in 2010, the team failed to run on track, owing to certain technical problems. However, they made their way to being the third best design. The 2011 event was also a damp squib, mainly due to financial difficulties. Their inability to take part in the event that year came as a huge disappointment causing several members to back out due to their personal financial losses. This led to a significant reduction in the team size and also left the members discouraged and unenthusiastic. However later, a few of the team members decided to give it a shot again, this time motivated and inspired to prove themselves and with the determination to make it a reality. They decided to revive the team and hit the tracks for the 2012 event, at the risk of their academics and finances. Owing to the discontinuity caused, new recruitments had to be held and fresh faces were inducted into the group. The project, which kick-started in August 2011 started off with the individual team members pooling into the finances required, as sponsors were reluctant to aid them.
After a period of 5 months, Autodesk relented to provide technical help to the team. A workshop conducted by Autodesk, in Banglore gave the team a clear picture as to how to move ahead. The workshop introduced them to new technologies, which is much more advanced than what a normal Mechanical Engineering student would study. Without further ado, the team commenced vigorous operations by December 2011. However soon after, the team had another obstruction in its path, a big one at that! Vellore, located approximately 3 hours from Chennai, lacked the facilities and machinery required for the welding and machining of Aluminum. The university also lacked the facility for the same as the welding of Aluminum is considered difficult. Hence, the team members had to take up yet another task of travelling to and from Chennai, spending almost 6 hours on travel. Exhausting as the travelling may sound, this caused further inconvenience considering the continual conduct of exams by the university. Striking a balance between academics and the construction of the vehicle was indeed a gargantuan task. Many in VIT would have witnessed the dedicated members, working late into the night, their hearts set to the laborious work at hand. Furthermore, the members of the team had to stay back in college, through the summer break in order to complete the pending work. Till date, the team has been thriving on personal expenses, though the sponsors have assured that the money would be reimbursed after the event. Though the sponsors were willing to help, they took time in getting back to the team owing to their own unavoidable work flow. The university rule which states that the sponsors make the payment only after the completion of the event, also forced the team to pay from their pockets. Sticking to a tight schedule of deadlines, the routine inspections from the sponsors regarding the progress of work further intensified their efforts. The major sponsors include Bosch, Michelin, AIA Engineering and VIT University.
From being a group of ordinary engineering students, this tenacious and terrific twelve has a come a long way, facing adversities of various levels at different stages of the completion of the project. From the financial and technical difficulties to the recruitment of a new team to the fatiguing shuttle to and fro Chennai, their efforts are deserving and highly commendable. The final product of their hard work is a car using a 100cc engine, in addition to having a carburetor type fuel feed, single wheel chain drive, front disk brakes and rear hydraulic brakes. The team expects to achieve 150 to 200 km/litre with the vehicle. Adding to its profile is its light weight and aerodynamic behavior.
At the helm of the project is Aditya, a third year Mechanical engineering student. On being asked about his experience on spearheading the team he shares, “Today, I can say with confidence that I can bring any design to reality. Leading Team Eco Titans has given me a taste of almost every essential dimension of Engineering as well as life. From manufacturing an automobile to managing different people to make them work as a team. Fabricating a vehicle with so many constraints can’t be done if a particular person knows only about an automobile, he/she should be well aware of design fundamentals and digital prototyping, materials, manufacturing concepts, in other words, a lot of engineering!Â ”
‘Motivating’ and ‘Perseverance’ are only two of the many adjectives coming their way. As the D-day draws nearer, Team Eco Titans is all set to make a difference! We wish them luck and a triumphant victory!
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