15 Questions with Andre Torres

In line with this month’s theme of “Innovation”, The Menagerie interviews Andre Torres, a 108 Mechanical Engineering student, on his participation in the Shell Eco Marathon Asia 2011.

Photo by Martin San Diego
Photo by Martin San Diego

TLS: How many participants joined the Shell Eco Marathon?

Andre (A): There are 97 teams from around Asia, 13 countries. The Philippines had seven entries from six schools, namely: Don Bosco, TIP, UST, Mapua, UP and DLSU. There were 15 people in the DLSU team.

TLS: How would you describe the environment of the Shell Eco Marathon?

A: Well, it is a race. You do not just drive the car because in a typical race it is pabilisan (speed racing), this is more on efficiency though; less consumption [of gas] should be the goal. It is about creating a vehicle that will consume the least amount of energy for a certain distance.

TLS: How many people actually built the car?

A: Ten of us built the car. Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) students and Mechanical Engineering  (ME) students constructed DLSU’s entry.

TLS: How were you chosen to participate in the said event?

A: We went through screenings and applications.

TLS: Can you tell us more about the DLSU 100, the University’s entree?

A: It is an electric car actually, it uses less battery. Our goal was to create something that uses the least amount of energy or battery.

TLS: How did you fair in the competition?

A: We won rank five in our category, which was the “Plug-in” category, meaning the battery category. We were 5th place out of ten participants.

TLS: Where was the event held?

Andre Torres' teammates during a test run of the Eco Car
Andre Torres' teammates during a test run of the Eco Car. Photo by Martin San Diego

A: It was held in Sepang International racing circuit in Malaysia. We were there for five days but the event was four days.

TLS: Could you give a short description of the processes you went through during the competition proper?

A: The first day, we unpacked the car because it was shipped, and we fixed the components that we removed. We were worried that the parts would get damaged when they were being shipped. We underwent technical scrutineering because before you can enter the track, you have to pass the two scrutineering; the technical and the actual testing.

We were the first Philippine team to pass the technical inspection. Ranked 8th out of 97 teams, we were the first Philippine team to compete. We were also selected to participate in a parade. Out of the 13 countries, seven cars joined the parade, and the DLSU 100 was one of them.

TLS: Our theme this month is about innovation; could you tell us what really got you interested in joining the Shell-Eco Marathon?

A: I wanted to provide an alternative vehicle instead of the regular gas-powered cars. We chose a battery operated model because DLSU has solar powered cars under its belt. We wanted to try something different; I also wanted to join just for fun.

TLS: How long does the battery last then? On average?

A: Up to four hours of continuous running. It has an average speed of 30 kilometers per hour.

TLS: Where did you source the funding for the construction of the car and for the  expences of the actual competition?

A: Last year, it was funded by La Salle, but this year, La Salle outsourced. We had to get sponsors because last year, the team used the entire budget allocated for two years. Two companies, Globe and Phinma, sponsored the initative.

TLS: Was there anything in particular that made the DLSU 100 different from the other Filipino entrees?

A: We were the only Philippine team that had an electric car, because the rest had internal combustion engines like typical cars.

Andre Torres' teammates during a test run of the Eco Car. Photo by Martin San Diego
Andre Torres' teammates during a test run of the Eco Car. Photo by Martin San Diego
TLS: So how fast could the DLSU 100 cruise?

A: Our record was 228 kilometers per kilowatt hour, and if converted into kilos per liter (for gas) that is around 2027.3  kilometers per liter, so the DLSU 100 is more efficient than most cars.

TLS: Why did you use electricity as source of energy, when all the other schools used gas?

A: We do not really have a lot of experience with an internal combustion engine because we have been working on solar-powered car since 2007. Hopefully next year, we will be able to enter two cars, one still running on electricity, and one on gas.

We also added a lot to the car – cruise control, gradient sensors, among other things – as opposed to a normal car, the battery-powered car have more features.

TLS: In your opinion, do you think that it is more important to be creative and innovative, or to be more skilled in technical or building abilities in such an endeavor?

A: For us, we balanced both. We in ME were assigned for the shell, or how to make it look better. Then those from ECE worked on the inside of the car more, so it’s really a mix of both.

Stephanie Braganza

By Stephanie Braganza

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