Cody Howard
School of Engineering

Engineering team makes first appearance in fuel economy marathon

Fri, 05/30/2014

LAWRENCE — Highlighted by a run of nearly 100 miles per gallon of fuel efficiency, a team from the University of Kansas School of Engineering recently participated in a competition that pushes the envelope of fuel economy and vehicle innovation.

For the first time in school history, KU took part in the Shell-Eco marathon – Americas, which took place last month in Houston. The vehicle, which is the size of a go-kart and has a top speed of about 30 miles per hour, was designed by members of the KU EcoHawks, a student research program in the engineering school that focuses on developing innovative sustainable energy solutions for transportation and other areas of energy infrastructure. Chris Depcik, associate professor of mechanical engineering, serves as the EcoHawks adviser.

“The idea behind the competition is to inspire innovation and see what new ideas people come up with,” said Alex Stelljes, a 2014 graduate in mechanical engineering from Richardson, Texas. “It’s about experimenting with fuel economy and looking for ways to scale-up your design to broaden the potential benefits.”

About 120 teams from around the world compete, but most are in the Prototype Division, which is a much smaller vehicle that is a tight fit for one person. KU was one of about 40 teams to design a slightly larger vehicle for the Urban Concept Division, and it was one of only three teams to power the vehicle with Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) fuel, utilizing natural gas.

Teams were required to pass a variety of inspections and present detailed reports on their designs. They had to attempt completion of 10 laps (a total of six miles) on a track around a 12-acre public park, Discovery Green, in downtown Houston. The idea is to see which team could travel the farthest using the least amount of energy. KU maxed out at 94 miles per gallon.

“We were really pleased with our fuel economy and feel good about our overall performance,” said Cory Ingenthron, a 2014 graduate in mechanical engineering from Topeka. “We also did a great job keeping a realistic cost structure in mind with the car. Our $6,000 budget was much lower than most other teams, and that wowed a lot of people.”

KU did not record an official final score because its vehicle frame was a few inches too wide, but the EcoHawks were one of only a handful of teams from the Urban Concept Division that delivered a functioning vehicle to run on the track. The team members plan to pass along what they’ve learned to next year’s team and make the competition an EcoHawks tradition.

Team members: Tyler Buffkin, De Soto; William Hamilton, Wichita; Cory Ingenthron, Topeka; Jordan Miller, Norman, Oklahoma; Robert Moreno, El Paso, Texas, and Alex Stelljes, Richardson, Texas.


Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

RT @KU _Football: Kansas leads @Big12Conference & is 1-of-7 schools in the NCAA to have 3 or more players tabbed for the 2015 Pro Bowl http:…
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times