The next generation of ecologically friendly cars could be designed by a 2006 Hanford High School graduate and his team members.
Trevor Fayer, 24, is leading a University of Washington multidisciplinary team's efforts to win the EcoCAR 2 Challenge by designing and building a hybrid car.
The UW team is one of 15 out of more than 100 across the United States that qualified to enter the second phase of the three-year competition. The challenge, sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors, is in its 23rd year. This is the University of Washington College of Engineering's first time as a competitor in what has attracted more than 400 university entries during the life of the competition.
Fayer, who graduated last year with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, submitted UW's proposal last summer after spending most of his 2010 winter break developing it.
Never miss a local story.
The proposal had to include an engineering component that showed the analysis and vehicle simulation, as well as a business component that required having faculty mentors and a source for the $25,000 in seed money.
The EcoCAR 2 Challenge strives to produce prototypes of the next generation of electric and plug-in vehicles, said Fayer, who is leading a team of 40 students to build UW's vehicle.
The car will come together on a "platform" that will be a GM-donated 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, said Tyler Rose, who is the outreach coordinator for UW team.
The first step will be designing -- using 3-D modeling -- what will be the guts of the power systems that will replace the Malibu's drive train.
The $25,000, which came from GM, will help build a standalone facility at the university to house the EcoCAR 2 project. The lab will need a vehicle lift and computer-assisted design computers and be roomy enough to accommodate the team members.
Rose said that once the competition ends, the facility will be the university's lab for alternative fuels research.
"I've always been interested in electric drives," Fayer said. But he said he was more involved in photography and producing the Falcons' yearbook than tinkering with motor mechanics as a teenager.
Fayer's first hands-on experience with wrenches came during his senior year at UW, when another student asked him to work together to install an unusual electric drive system into a 2002 Honda Accord. That engineering capstone project led to the EcoCAR 2 Challenge.
Fayer -- whose mother, Mary, teaches fifth grade at Badger Mountain Elementary and father, Michael, is a hydrology manager at Battelle -- is looking forward to a "jam-packed but fun year."
"On the surface, we are building a car, but what we're really doing is nurturing talent," Rose said.
Rose said the EcoCAR Challenge has engaged 16,500 students during the past 23 years.
"Ninety-eight percent of them have gone to work for the companies involved," he said.
Additionally, the competition helps make the public more aware of the importance of environmental technology, he said.
"It is important for the consumers to know, because ultimately consumers will drive innovation," Rose said.