More than a thousand high school and college students from throughout the Americas are competing this week in California to see who can design the most energy-efficient vehicle. And this year, a record number of girls and women are participating.
This year’s Shell Eco-Marathon at Sonoma Raceway will include an entry from Sacramento State as well as other California schools such as UC Berkeley, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UCLA, Loyola Marymount and Montebello’s Schurr High School. The competition begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
Shell says this year nearly a quarter of the participants identify as female, marking the largest proportion for the event to date.
That includes college senior Maria Baeza, one of three women representing Sac State.
"We can do anything the guys can do," Baeza said.
Her team’s vehicle uses gas, but diesel, ethanol, hydrogen and electric batteries are also part of the competition.
Baeza said she likes seeing younger girls encouraged by her work. It's similar to the motivation she's had in past years at the competition.
"Some of the techs who inspect our cars are women as well, so that pushes us, like I can be there with them, you know," she said.
Teams that can go the farthest using the least energy will qualify for the world championship in London this July. Last year, Brigham Young won the gas-powered division with fuel efficiency of nearly 2,000 mph.
According to Shell, more than 6,000 students from 52 countries will compete in the nine events in the Marathon.
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