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Eric prepares his car before hitting the track

Eric prepares the car to hit the track

On Tuesday April 2 Eric Verhasselt, a senior engineering major at Swarthmore College learned that his teammate, Emily Lau, could no longer drive their vehicle due to challenges with her driver’s license.

Many teams would have considered waiting until next year with the risk of not be able to compete, but not the SWAT team. Faced with the enormous obstacle of not having a driver, Eric and his dad embarked on the 22-hour ride to Houston and got to work.

Eric can’t fit in the vehicle he built and it was not possible to modify it to fit his tall, 6’5’’ frame. The car was built for 4’11 Emily, so finding a new driver at that height was sure to be challenging. By leveraging social media and traditional word of mouth, Breanna Herbst, a senior at Kimberly High School in Wisconsin and back up driver, volunteered to assist.

I did not think I’d be able to complete after working on my vehicle for the past year and a half,” said Eric. “Thanks to Kimberly High School, I will now be able to see my vehicle on the track at Shell Eco-marathon Americas. I am grateful for their sportsmanship and support.”

The deal was sealed when Breanna eagerly slipped on the uniform Eric brought for Emily to wear. It fit her perfectly.

“We compete a lot and have always told the team they can have a competitive spirit, but be friendly to other teams,” said Ken Schultz, a team advisor for Kimberly High School. “You never know when an unfortunate incident might happen to you, and it’s great we could assist Swarthmore.”

The duo successfully passed technical inspection and are now on the track competing in the Prototype Hydrogen category.

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Shell Eco-marathon Americas

The event is open to the public for all three days of the event and accessible (Discovery Green) dawn to dusk.