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Louisiana Tech engineering students drive forward Eco-marathon


Louisiana Tech University engineering students built a diesel vehicle that got 338 miles per gallon on the streets of Detroit this month.

The students built a futuristic vehicle that competed in this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Louisiana Tech placed second in the UrbanConcept diesel category.

Tech has competed for the past seven years and currently holds the record for fuel efficiency in this category. Mechanical engineering professor Heath Tims is the faculty adviser for the eco-marathon.

“We typically start building a vehicle about six months prior to the competition. Every aspect of the car is built by the students -- from laying the individual carbon fiber pieces, to welding, to ultimately painting the vehicle,” Tims said.

Sixteen students went to Detroit for the race, culminating countless hours of work. These students don’t earn a single credit. Xavier Theriot is a mechanical engineering student from Shreveport who was co-team leader.

“We call our free time ‘eco time.’ Whether it’s a weekend or holiday, we are always down in the room working on our vehicles to make sure that they get done,” Theriot said, adding next year he’ll take a back seat on the project to focus more on his senior year class.

The students build a new car from scratch every year, according to Tims. They have a showroom in the basement of the engineering building displaying their UrbanConcept entries since 2008. This year’s eco-marathon drew 113 teams, representing over 1,000 high school and university students from across the Americas.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.