Student-built hybrid draws national attention

May 11, 2009 4:04:21 PM PDT
The local designers are gearing up to compete for a $10 million prize.

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson came to West Philadelphia High School's auto garage today to see first hand the award-winning cars a group of teenage students are producing.

The school's Electric Vehicle X-Prize teams are building hybrids that can go from zero to sixty in less than 4 seconds and get 100 miles per gallon. They have already beat companies like Toyota and Honda by building the world's first hybrid supercar.

Now they're poised to be a top contender for the X Competition next spring which carries a $10 million prize.

"There's so much to gain for urban youth and people around the world jumping on the green economy," said sophomore Azeem Hill. "So many people need jobs."

The EVX team started 11 years ago as an after-school program. The students have a budget of about $200,000. The big question is, how are they beating companies with millions at their disposal?

"It's the fact that we're not a big established company and not complicated," said senior Eric Yates. "But we're showing the world that if you understand the basics, look what kids in inner city Philadelphia - and youth all over - can do."

These humble kids say they're just trying to drive the market forward and open doors for inner city workers. EPA Administrator Jackson had nothing but good things to say.

"The president has said the green economy has to touch everyone," she said during her visit today. "This is a great example of the administrators, teachers and sponsors knowing what is needed, and putting kids on the right track."

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