Keith Ward from Ballymore (second right) at the 2014 Shell Eco-Marathon in Ahoy, Rotterdam with (from left) Cian Conlon-Smith, Norman Koch, technical director, Shell Eco-Marathon, Adam Fleming from Clonard, and Mark Kelly.

Shell Eco-Marathon: Ballymore student to work on car of the future

The vehicle Keith Ward from Ballymore is working on this summer won’t look like a car in the usual sense, but it will contain technology that the cars we drive 20 years from now might employ.

Keith is going into his third year of mechanical engineering at NUIG and this summer he’s working on a machine to take part in the Shell Eco-Marathon in 2015, along with colleagues at the university.

The 19-year-old has “always been interested in engines”, as his father was a mechanic and he approached the head of the mechanical engineering department at NUIG to volunteer his services on the eco-marathon project.

The outgoing fourth years had done designs and drawings for the car, and Keith is one of a 10-strong team preparing to take it further. “The next stage is putting it together,” he told the Westmeath Examiner last Wednesday, “starting next week – and the sooner the car is built, the better, as we can start putting theory into practice.”

The Shell Eco-Marathon is a long-standing event that challenges students to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car.

On its website it states: ‘at three events around the world hundreds of teams compete to travel the furthest on the least amount of energy. Some achieve distances equivalent to driving from Paris to Moscow (that’s 2,485 km or 1,544 miles) on a single litre of fuel.’

Keith and colleagues will be taking part in the Rotterdam leg, and he was there for the 2014 edition on a reconnaissance mission on May 16.

That gave him an idea of what’s involved and he acknowledges that the competition is serious.

Asked about the team’s ambitions, he said: “Not to come last, to get some scores on the board.”

The machine Keith is working on this summer has an electric engine (“similar to the one in a milk float”) which the students will modify, though he says they might try other power sources too.

Keith points out that Shell is serious about the eco-marathon and the potential the students who are involved display. “The cars of 20 years’ time will come from this,” he said.

If you would like to find out more or help the team reach their €1,000 budget target, contact them on Facebook  (search ‘NUI Galway Eco-Marathon Team’).

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