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Take one pram, an old vacuum cleaner – and drive

The motto at James Benson Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina is “Failure is not an option”. It is a good motto to have, given that many of its students are from deprived backgrounds and struggle to reach academic success. Brayan Cruz has been a student here for the last three years.

“School wasn’t for me,” says Brayan. “I wanted to drop out.”

Then last year Ricky Lewis, who teaches automotive engineering, urged him to take up the challenge of designing an ultra energy-efficient car to compete in Shell Eco-marathon. With limited resources, it would not be easy:

“Last year, one Eco-marathon team spent $150,000 on their vehicle,” says Ricky. “We’ve spent $150!”

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure

Brayan has worked with teammates to build a streamlined electric car, relying on recycled materials. The driver sits in an old classroom seat and a pram cover serves as an easy-to-open roof, while the car body contains a vacuum cleaner hose and spare bicycle parts.

The team stays in the school workshop as late as 9 p.m. “Usually pizza helps keep them going!” says Ricky. “They’re learning co-operation, confidence and how to get the most out of what extremely limited resources they have.”

Now Brayan faces a new challenge: raising the $550 each student needs to travel from North Carolina to Houston, Texas, for the event.

 

Team facts

Team facts

Team name: Let's Do It Again!
Average age: 17
Car name: Panther Paw I and Panther Paw II
Classes: UrbanConcept and Prototype
Fuels: Electric
Unique car features: Both cars are made from an array of junk parts and donated items.
Years in the competition: 2
Records to beat: "They are all winners in my book just by doing their best. That is enough for me!" Ricky Lewis

Who's on the team?

Brayan Cruz

Brayan Cruz

Brayan Cruz is the 16-year-old prototype team captain. His interests include music, films, sport and, unsurprisingly, he’s passionate about cars. A popular leader, his teammates describe him as “funny and cool”. His personal motto is “never quit” and he has shown his determination to make it to the competition.

Anthony Marsh Junior

Anthony Marsh Junior

Just turned 17, Anthony Marsh Junior, or AJ, is the team’s graphic designer and electrician. When not tinkering with mechanics, AJ can be found skateboarding and listening to death metal. The “chilled and funny” AJ says that working on the team has made him “not feel like a failure” for the first time in his life. He gives Mr Lewis (Ricky Lewis, the team facilitator) as the main reason he signed up for the competition.

Uriel Mendoza

Uriel Mendoza

Uriel Mendoza, otherwise known as Cheerios, is 17 and leads the UrbanConcept team. As well as being passionate about automotive mechanics, Cheerios loves to spend time gaming, especially on GameCraft. He may be a little shy, but Cheerios is a great team leader and is thoroughly enjoying “this amazing experience” of hands-on work with cars.

Muzdalifa Sabri

Muzdalifa Sabri

Seventeen-year-old Muzdalifa Sabri – Mumu to her friends – is the driver. Her teammates describe her as “always happy, patient and kind”. As well as honing her driving skills, Mumu loves R&B music, dancing, playing piano and drawing. She joined Shell Eco-marathon because she loves “being part of a team and having the chance to travel”. Her motto is “you’re never a loser until you quit” and she won’t be giving up.