Students driving for $10M "green" jackpot

September 14, 2009

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The ExxonMobil Foundation handed over a check for $25,000 to the West Philadelphia Automotive Academy to help in their pursuit of the coveted prize.

"I think these kids are amazing. We saw some interesting vehicles. We talked with the kids about the idea of how they can produce fuel efficient vehicles that get 100mpg in a very environmentally friendly manner," said Gerald McElby, President of ExxonMobil Foundation.

The West High students are building 2 super efficient, super fast hybrid vehicles. The Ford Focus hybrid can go from one to sixty in less than 12 seconds and gets over 100 miles per gallon. It's safer than other hybrids, more affordable and uses off the shelf technology made in America.

"Our budget is very, very small compared to our competitors, but that makes us competitive. We know how to use a small budget," explained Azeem Hill.

These overachievers have already won 3 international competitions. But the big prize is the ultimate competition with a purse of $10 million that will help put their car into production.

"People scratch their heads and say how young people achieving great things, but that's because somebody has high expectations for them and we have those expectations for them," said Lisa Nutter, President, Philadelphia Academies.

Over 100 teams are in this prize competition this spring. They come from 11 different countries but these West Philadelphia students are the only high school students. And they say they're not scared.

"Yeah, we are going to win, I believe we will," said Azeem.

Katalea Sharia said, "I feel smart and proud. I'm doing something so great."

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