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DLSU Eco Car Team drives green innovation

Over the last few decades, unabated carbon emissions have fueled climate change, with the Philippines contributing 150.6 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2019.

By creating technology-advanced and fuel-efficient cars, young individuals from De La Salle University are applying their knowledge of Engineering and Computer Technology to create solutions that reduce carbon emissions.

The DLSU Eco Car Team from the Gokongwei College of Engineering, under the supervision of Engr. Jose Antonio Catalan and Dr. Jose Manuel Biona, was formed in 2010, joining Shell’s  annual Eco-marathon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Ever since, they have competed in each succeeding Eco-marathon, building fuel efficient vehicles. From their first electric car named the “DLSU 100” to more advanced vehicles such as “Archer”, “Delta”, “Bumakaya”, and their most recent car “Maxima”, the Eco Car Team has consistently developed groundbreaking solutions for fuel efficiency.

Three team members—Eunice Rupisan (II, BS-MEM), Ren Untalan (II, BS-MEM), and Sean Gatpo (II, BS-MEM)—shed light on their roles in the team, experiences in the competition, and hopes for more sustainable transport alternatives in the Philippines.

Beyond transportation

In their stint at this year’s Eco-marathon, the team ranked third globally and first in the Philippines last July 8 in a bonus challenge called The Road to 2050. The challenge saw teams create a 30-second advertisement that answered the question: “What should mobility look like in your future?”

Rupisan, the team’s manager, expresses that she and her team wanted to convey a future that uses “cleanly-sourced renewable energy.” “[We envisioned] a future wherein we are no longer limited to mobility constraints brought about by volume, traffic, and distance,” she discloses.

Although Rupisan admits that it was challenging to form a concrete idea for a relatively broad prompt, she shares that after much deliberation and brainstorming, her team decided to stick to the concept of “mobility that transcends borders”, which was integrated into the creative process behind the advertisement.

Maintaining momentum

“The best part of being on the team is getting to work with our teammates and learning about the application of engineering principles that were taught to us in the classroom”, Untalan shares. 

Additionally, Untalan touches on having to juggle academic requirements while also attending to their vehicles. However, he reassures that the presence of the team helped alleviate the stress. 

Aside from maintaining a balancing act between their academics and team responsibilities, there is the added pressure of the limitations set by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This forced Shell to reinvent the Eco-marathon for a pandemic-stricken world while continuing its mission of encouraging the future generation to develop fuel-efficient vehicles.

This shift, however, posed a challenge for the team. “Sadly, because of the pandemic, our team can’t work [the same way we did before],” Untalan laments. Rupisan and Gatpo acknowledge that the new setup made for a more arduous competition, but they are quick to add that the team was able to adapt to the current system efficiently by focusing more on the research and development aspect of past and future cars.

Untalan furthers that they were able to gain more knowledge about vehicle improvements that can be applied once face-to-face classes will be permitted.

For the future

Despite the various challenges and hurdles that the team faced, all members were able to give their all to the competition. Rupisan reiterates “It was the [combined effort] of every member of the team that allowed us to overcome this obstacle.” It was no mean feat that they were able to clinch a top spot, and the team represented the Lasallian community well on an international scale. “Passion and dedication [go] a long way,” Rupisan posits. She imparts that while it is not easy to manage and be a part of a team that constantly requires new and innovative ideas, it is gratifying to work with those who share the same visions and aspirations.

By Angel Peña

By Tommy Vasquez

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