Student-Designed Car Hits the Road at Global Hybrid Electric Challenge Race

Electric Car AUC
Electric Car AUC

As part of the global efforts to encourage environmental awareness through sustainable energy solutions, Egypt hosted the first national Global Hybrid Electric Challenge (GHEC) in Soma Bay, Hurghada, Egypt from March 10 to 12. Ten AUC students with interdisciplinary backgrounds competed in the competition and won the best graphic design award and third place in the hybrid electric race, one of two races in the competition.

“Students assembled the car in four days, which is quite impressive," said Mohamed Aly, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and faculty adviser. "They were able to come up with optimization techniques in terms of how to make the car efficient, light and durable.”

Car Race Competition

GHEC is a new national and regional competition promoting climate change, energy efficiency and environmental awareness. The competition brought together 150 engineering students from nine universities in Egypt to showcase their design and mechanical engineering skills to race electric and hybrid electric cars. Each university was required to purchase a toolkit that included all the components necessary to build the cars such as an electric motor, batteries, charger, generator and steel car frame.

The competition involved two days of car racing. On the first day, the team competed with electric energy only for one hour and ran 15 laps. “The first lap was a challenge because our car battery died while the driver was racing in the track,” said Abdel Rahman Shalaby, mechanical engineering senior. “We had to diagnose the problem and figure out a solution on the spot.”

The second day consisted of a three-hour session with a hybrid electric and generator engine. “We completed 126 laps, which placed us third and only six laps away from winning first place,” said Youssef Eskaros, mechanical engineering senior.

Beyond Winning

For Aly, winning first place wasn’t the main objective. “The exposure and hands-on experience that students gain is more important to me,” he said. “They had to use their engineering sense and technical knowledge acquired throughout their undergraduate years.”

Omar El Gendy, mechanical engineer senior, agreed. “An undergraduate college education isn’t only about attending class and earning good grades,” he said. “Developing practical skills is very important for potential job opportunities. We learned how to optimize our energy, power and test a lot of calculations in only four days.”

The students are currently seeking funds to attend the regional GHEC competition from April 7 to 9 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  “Even if we don’t get the opportunity to compete regionally, we already had the chance to live our dream – the dream we had when we came to AUC,” said Eskaros. “What we’re trying to do is establish a foundation where future students who are interested in this field can join and learn. They’ll be able to graduate from AUC with a rewarding and memorable experience.”