It was an OMG kind of a day

Simon has been praying. All the time. I was nearly sick. Only Keith uttered the words out loud although at some point today we all thought it. “At least we’ll still have one car in the X Prize.” When we came to Michigan for the Shakedown Stage of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, we thought that the Focus was in significantly better shape than the GT. We were wrong.

By Tuesday both the Focus and the GT passed the technical inspection and it was time to move to dynamic testing. Big Mark took the GT to the track and quickly passed the acceleration, braking and lane change tests. It looked easy.

Then we brought the Ford over. The object of the acceleration and braking test is to accelerate from 0 to 60 in under 15 seconds, then brake from 60 to 0 in less than 170 feet. Simon had the Focus in all electric mode. He got really close on his first two runs at 55 MPH and then 58 MPH. But he couldn’t hit 60 MPH. Something was seriously wrong. Simon’s mother started praying.

We didn’t panic. We took the Ford back to the shop, worked into the night and were prepared to try it again in the morning. It didn’t work. Was there a bad cell in the battery pack? Was there a software problem? Noon came and went with no answer. We charged the car and tried again without success. Our only alternative was to run the car on the Harley to get our acceleration. That’s right: run a 3500 lb car on a Harley-Davidson engine to pass our acceleration test.

Just one problem. The Harley wouldn’t start. After what seemed like hours of intensive programming Keith and Jerry got the Harley running, but every time Simon touched the throttle, the engine shut-off. Again and again. Then it started to rain. Big Mark came back from running the durability test on the GT and worked his magic on the throttle. We were ready to go back to the track and try again.

In the meantime, Consumer Reports, which was responsible for running the dynamic tests, had left the track. When we didn’t show up on the track in the afternoon, they packed their bags and were headed out. We were the only car left to go. Fortunately, they unpacked and came back for us. First go was not good. Second time we had 0 to 60 in 16.9 seconds. We hit the braking zone at 67 mph and stopped in less than 170 feet. Half our battle – braking was okay, but we had to try again for acceleration. Third time we did it in 16.2 seconds. Then the Harley stalled out. OMG.

I waited at the finish line for what seemed like a week as the rest of the Team worked on the Focus at the other end of the straightaway. The sun came out but there was no rainbow. Finally, Simon ran the Focus with the Harley rumbling, the electric motor humming, the magnetic clutch ringing and hit the acceleration mark. I was no longer sick.

Last hurdle for the day was the lane change. This accident avoidance maneuver has to be performed at 45 mph and simulates switching 2 lanes of traffic. There are cones set up to mark lanes. Hit a cone and you’ve failed. Come in at less than 45 mph and you’ve failed. Time and again Simon came through. Wasn’t fast enough. Hit a cone. Hit another cone. Wasn’t fast enough. Ten or eleven must have been the charm, because he nailed it. In true Hauger fashion we even had 40 minutes to spare.

What a day. We have one more day of testing tomorrow. When we nail those tests all we have to do is drive home and get two cars and about 15 kids ready to come back to the Michigan International Speedway in June for the next stage of this $10 million rollercoaster ride. OMG.





A different energy shift

With the absence of Hauger, Mark, lil Mark, Keith, and Jerry P, the downstairs shops are a little lonely.  There is this great space in the middle of Ron's shop.  Sometimes you see Daniel Moore just walking around in circles where the GTM used to lay.  It is a little sad.

Trust me though when I say that we have enough work to keep us from any nostalgia, that is an understatement.  And when I say that we had enough drama in our lives over the past couple days to sell out Broadway, that is an understatement.

Yet, the cars are working.  The West Philly Hybrid X Team is doing very well in Michigan.  The GTM passed the speed test.  Tomorrow, Simon and company will try the Ford Focus again.  Ann is keeping everyone updated with emails and tweets in the middle of all her runs to the hardware store and auto shops.  I would love to see Edison 2's four cars at the Speedway.  They sound amazing.  Four cars!  What an incredible accomplishment.

The thing is, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize is accomplishing everything they set out to do.  You have engineers, mechanics, thinkers, businessmen and women coming together to talk cars.  This competition sparked this need for innovative hybrid technology and powerful business plans.  Many people are taking notice.  This competition has done so much for this team that it doesn't seem real at times.  Three students will speak on Friday at MIT about the future of sustainability energy.  Ten days ago, another four students were part of a panel at Saint Joseph's University discussing the educational benefits a CTE curriculum fosters at an urban school.  Boeing Wind Tunnel opened its doors for us to test the areodynamics of our cars.  We truly are fortunate to work with such wonderful and accomplished companies and universities as if it is the norm now.

I am very excited to take three students, Azeem, Daniel, and Sekou to Boston with Maurice Williams.  I cannot imagine the electricity on that campus.  As a former rower at Saint Joseph's, the women's team was always jealous of the men's team when they went to Boston to row on the Charles River.  I have never seen the Charles River.  I can imagine its a beautiful river.

Keep updated with the mechanics and engineers in Michigan through out twitter account.  Make sure to follow the students in Boston as the present our essential question, "How do you educate urban youth for the green economy?"

Two answers: compete in nationally prestigious competitions and implement a strong CTE curriculum.

Ride or Die

Ms. R


Greetings from Michigan

I’ve been trying to tell you about our trip to the Shakedown Stage of the Progressive Automotive X Prize since last week. I tried to write before we left town on Sunday, but we were overwhelmed with getting ready and packing. I was sure I would have time to write while we were at the Michigan International Speedway, but every time I sat down at the computer, I’d get sent on a parts run. The guys at Speedway Auto in Brooklyn, MI started asking for my time card.

It’s now 8 PM on Wednesday April 28. The Team has already logged 41 hours at the track. I hopped a ride to the hotel while the rest of crew stayed at the track working. If you are asking why, that’s a very good question. I’ll start my answer by telling you what the PAXP has all the teams doing this week.

First, a little background. A year ago there were 111 teams chasing the $10 million purse in a competition to build cars that achieve over 100 MPGe. Today, there are only 28 left. Half those teams are at the Speedway this week and other half check in on Sunday. We each undergo 5 days of intensive inspection and testing.

On Monday and Tuesday each of our cars was evaluated by the PAXP technical teams. We’re talking fine toothed comb here. Not like flea combs, we mean lice combs. That’s right, they went through each car and we spent several days picking nits and lice. The mechanical inspectors checked the torque of every bolt, the manner in which fuel lines were run, how we secured our on-board fire extinguishers vehicle clearances, etc., etc., etc.

Then, because our cars are hybrids we underwent electrical inspection. Those inspectors were just as thorough as the mechanical guys, looking at issues including how we labeled our high voltage lines, were there padded grommets at each place a line passed through metal, how our emergency disconnects worked and more and more.

After each car was inspected, we had a list of issues to address. That’s how I came to learn all about the hardware stores, auto parts stores, coffee shops and fire extinguisher suppliers in this part of Michigan. I think I made over 20 runs. The good news is, at 11:15 this morning, both cars passed inspection. We were among the first group of teams to pass this hurdle. We got to eat lunch and breathe for about 20 minutes. Then we hit the track for the first day of dynamic testing. Each car had to pass an acceleration, braking and lane change test. The good news is that the GT passed all of today’s tests and will move on to durability and range testing tomorrow. The Focus encountered some software issues and will have to run through the dynamic testing tomorrow. That’s why the rest of the team is still at the track.

There are many amazing teams and vehicles here with us. Take a look at all the different ways competitors are getting to 100 MPGe. One of the most impressive teams is Edison 2, which brought 4 cars to the competition. Their Team Director is Oliver Kuttner. Here’s what he said: “The hurdles are set high and only the very careful and very well executed solution will stand the test of this X Prize. There is a reason why the big automobile manufacturers have not done it. It is really hard to do…”

We agree. But hard work has never stopped us before and it won’t stop us now, either.

Ride or Die.





Upstairs, Downstairs

Upstairs, Downstairs was an award winning British TV show that aired on public television during the 1970s. It detailed the lives of servants, who lived downstairs, and their wealthy employers, who lived upstairs. The story is set shortly after the turn of the 20th century and the great historic and social happenings of the time are integrated into the story.  At Auto, we have our own version of upstairs, downstairs, fraught with drama set against our 21st century urban landscape.  

The Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering is housed in a two story building a block away from West Philadelphia High School.  On the ground floor we have three auto shops and classrooms. One is for body work and the other two are devoted to auto technology, where Ron Preiss and Jerry DiLossi teach. The West Philly Hybrid X Team works in the center shop.

Upstairs are all our academic classrooms, a computer lab, offices and a cafeteria. Some students do really well on both floors. Others have a very distinct preference for one or the other. Some kids are adored by their academic teachers and are rude and disrespectful to their shop teachers.  Some kids will do anything in the world for their shop teachers and mouth off to their academic teachers. There are constant stresses between the floors. There are also stresses in the community that make their way into school.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 50% of African American teenagers are unemployed. In Philadelphia, the overall unemployment rose to 11.2% in February, more than double what it was in 2007. Barely 50% of students entering Philadelphia public schools graduate in 4 years. The dropout rate is staggering.

In spite of all of this, we have a wonderful group of students who work with us on the EVX Team. We don’t mean that they are all perfect students with perfect report cards and test scores. They are not immune to the problems of the city or those of urban education. We mean they are wonderful to work with in our after school program. We get to see them as young men and women who work on cars, write letters, deliver speeches and blog.  

Sometimes, like a TV show, drama and emotions boil over.  For the kids and the adults, it’s an emotional rollercoaster.

We had a real Upstairs, Downstairs day today. Downstairs, teachers and students worked into the night to get our cars ready to go to the Michigan International Speedway. Upstairs, a fight in the cafeteria, spilled over into the hallway necessitating the presence of the Philadelphia Police Department.  I’m not even sure that everyone downstairs knows the scope of today’s incident and the impact it will have on some team members.

This is real life. We won’t win an Emmy for today’s episode.


Boeing Wind Tunnel

Last Saturday, the West Philly Hybrid X Team went to the Boeing Wnd Tunnel to test the aerodynamics of the Factory Five GTM kit car.  It was a long day but full of good results and information.

It all started around 6 o 'clock in the morning when Hauger came to get myself, Justin Clarke, and Justin Carter from our house and met up with everybody else at school waiting to to leave. Approximately around 6:35 a.m. we arrived at the Boeing Wind Tunnel.  We waited for Mr. Boeing to come and escort us into the building. Once we got in the building, he gave us a tour of everything.  It was amazing to see all the computers and machines to run the testing.

We met up with the rest of his crew, and they explained to us on what we were going to do.  They wanted us to be as hands-on as possible and we did a lot of work.  It was only 7:20 and we were already testing and working on the GTM.  We were assigned jobs liker eording data, typing everything we did while moving the GTM, fix camera angles, and run back and forth to get tools.

We changed different things on the car like remodeling the hood of the car and removing other parts that we thought were going to cause our car to preform less then what it was doing already. We did that for the first six hours then we went on our lunch break. After  20 minutes or so, we were back at work again because nobody wanted to sit around and do nothing when we knew we came to get a job done.

In the final hour we had enough time to do two more tests.  We knew the more tests we ran, the better our car will be so we pushed ourselves to get a third test in.  After the time was done, Mr. Boeing walked us around the rest of the building and showed us what they used to test the aerodynamics on the airplanes and helicopters. By then it was time to leave so we packed up and said our thank yous to everybody for helping us. I think the team learned a lot.  We are understanding more what causes drag and what parts are necessary for our car to perform well.

Well that's all for now...

Daniel Moore


Our Ridiculous Adventure

We did it. It’s ridiculous, but we did it. It had to be done. We had to complete both cars and drive each of them 100 miles by March 30, or we would be eliminated from the X PRIZE.  We also had to submit our third technical report, photos and video.

On April 2, we learned that our technical report was accepted and that we now move on to the Shakedown Stage of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. That means we’re on our way to the Michigan International Speedway on April 24 for a week of on-track technical and safety testing. 

Getting to Michigan has been completely and totally ridiculous.  It’s so ridiculous I don’t know where to start, but I guess the beginning of the year is as good as any. To start off the New Year, we switched the batteries in our cars.  I don’t mean we took out a car battery from Sears and put in one from Pep Boys. I mean we replaced our we-love-this-lithium-iron-phosphate-battery-pack with a pack that has an entirely different chemistry from an entirely different manufacturer.  This also meant we needed new battery boxes.

This too, was ridiculous. We had to replace the perfectly lovely milk crates we’d been using as battery boxes with aluminum boxes fabricated by the manufacturer. (BTW, between the milk crates and the new boxes, we built about 4 different iterations of battery boxes, although we always seemed to revert to the milk crates.) Then we had to take the boxes out to have brackets welded to them. Then we drove the boxes back to the International Battery in Allentown. We did all this running around so we would have our batteries and battery management system installed in the cars by March 1 so we would have plenty of time to complete all our technical testing. That was delusional.

You know what else was ridiculous? The weather.  Philadelphia had 78.7 inches of snow this winter.  We had more snow than Boston, Chicago and Anchorage. Every time we needed to be in school working on the cars, school was closed. Some snow days were really bad. On some of those days Simon, who is the most ridiculous of all, drove through the city, picked up kids and went to school.  There were also the two ridiculous snow days when we waited – at home – for the storm that never came. We lost so much time from school that the Philadelphia School District cancelled the first two days of spring break. Are you kidding me? That’s what the kids were saying. The teachers were grumbling. Simon committed to a family vacation for the entirety of spring break or face divorce. I declared that I didn’t give a damn what Arlene Ackerman said, I was taking my spring break. I must now publically apologize to Dr. Ackerman and thank her for giving us the extra time to finish the cars.  

School was supposed to be over for all of us on Friday March 26. Our cars would be built, we’d have already driven them and Simon would write the technical report on the weekend. We’d get our report in way before the deadline. What an insane notion.  On Tuesday, our batteries were still in Allentown.

The batteries and a large flock of engineers installed the batteries and the battery management on Wednesday. That gave us a beautiful warm day to drive the cars on Thursday. We got the Focus to the lot first. It drove like a charm. Then the GT arrived and it looked great. It drove great – for about a lap. Then it started making horrific noises. We tried to diagnose the problem at the lot. We had come without a proper set of tools, so we used a lug wrench, a fence post and rebar as a hammer. They really didn’t work all that well, so we hauled the car back to school where we found that we had, apparently, ruined our fancy-ass Audi transmission.

After 2 ½ years of work, the idea of transmission problems knocking us out of the X PRIZE was staring us in the face. What an ignoble way to exit. Fortunately, we found another transmission in Texas and had it shipped overnight. It arrived on Saturday morning March 27, a day school would have been shut up tighter than a drum had it not been for the weather in February. We split our team of students and teachers with a small group of us going to the lot with the Focus to continue counting laps and recording video and the rest installing the new transmission in the GT. I even got to drive the Focus.

The new transmission was installed, the GT went on the lift and was started. NO! The same noise. The crew disassembled the transmission and put it together again. On this assembly, which was not by the book, Justin Clarke dropped a piece of equipment on the housing, denting it. Now we’re not sure if this bizarre accident was the reason, but the transmission stopped making the horror movie noises. We got it to the lot and spun off our laps.

This will be the last fact I relate about our adventure. It was about 30 degrees colder on Saturday than Thursday, and because we were so short of time, we compiled our laps on the GT without the body in place, which meant we did not have lights. Drivers, in long underwear, hats, hoodies and gloves rotated through driving assignments until we ran out of daylight. We got the final 35 miles on Sunday.  We are even happier to report that Simon made it to his spring vacation and remains happily married.

We hope you will continue to follow our great and ridiculous adventure.



Mike should major in EV

 Michael Glover is a first-year-team member, and a junior at the West Philadelphia Auto Academy. Ann and I can’t figure him out.

 He has a C or D, in pretty much all of his classes, including shop.  Recently, Mr. Preiss caught him cutting shop not once, but twice.  I guess the shop doesn’t have what the corner store does.

 He falls asleep in my class about once a week.  I have his mother’s cell phone number saved in my phone, and I recently sent her a picture message of her son sleeping in my class.  It was probably one of the greatest picture texts I have ever sent.

 When interim reports went out, Michael was in shock to see such low grades.  He couldn’t understand why the majority of his grades were low D’s, and in my case an F. 

 “Michael, you never do your homework.  You never have your books for class.  Sometimes you don’t even have a pen..  The only major assignment you completed was the four stanza poem with metaphors.  And you didn’t even write four stanzas. And you wrote similes!”

 Yet, Michael does exceptionally well after 3:04 p.m.

 He is an amazing football player.  He was a great asset to the team this past fall as an offensive linebacker.  He did very well in the field and worked very hard in practice.  He loves football so much.  He cannot wait for the football summer camp in July.

 When football season was over, he joined the West Philly Hybrid X Team.  He was simply looking for something to do after school.  Many of the students on the team fall into this category.  They enjoy automotive and working with the teachers and teammates. Most of the students don’t want to go home right after school.

 Yet, Michael has a tremendous family base.  His mother is very supportive and is in constant communication with his teachers.  I know.  I talk to her about once or twice a week.  His father stops by the shop to check in on Michael.  Sometimes Michael doesn’t do a great job of letting his parents know his schedule when we are in the shop late into the evening.  When that happens, they come looking for him.

 Michael may be one of the only students on the team who realizes all the exceptional opportunities provided for him.  He said in an interview that he joined the team because he thought this could be a way to get into college.  He also said that he is pretty much as famous as all the influential people the team has met, and doesn’t see the big deal with them coming to our shop.

 He thrives on Simon’s lectures on aerodynamics.  He loves the science behind the cars and is working very closely with a Penn student volunteer on researching ways to make the cars more aerodynamic.  He is the one who found a more aerodynamic windshield that the team is looking to buy for the cars.  The same day he left for the corner store during sixth period, he stayed with Edgar (the Penn engineering student) until five o’clock to research a contraption he could build to put on top of the GT to lower wind resistance.

When the gear heads on the team stumble over the name of a car part, a specific about the hybrid technology, or the effect of rolling resistance on fuel economy, Michael has the answer. Without fail. Every time it happens – which is frequently – we’re floored. This is why Ron Preiss says Michael should major in EV.

 Ann and I spent an entire evening about two weeks ago talking about Michael Glover and his idiosyncrasies, and we still can’t figure him out.  He is the reason why high school curriculum should be restructured, the school hours reworked, the menu in the cafeteria overhauled and football mini camps should be scheduled throughout the school year. We also need to trust in our students’ abilities some more.

 Last thought: I was so frustrated with Michael one day that I called my mother and had her speak to him.  Whenever a student is giving me a particular hard time, I call my mom in the middle of class and have her speak to him/her.  Last year it was Rameak Taylor.  This is year, it is Michael Glover.  My mother is a force.  She yells more than I do.  She works at a middle school in Maryland.  Her lunch is during my fourth period with Michael.  Convenient.  Even after their conversation, Michael still didn’t do his homework that night and didn’t bring his book to class. 

 We are stumped. 



I know that it’s not nice to feel good about the misfortune of others, but, I just can’t seem to help myself.

Let me tell you the whole story.  Through the hard work of our wonderful West Philadelphia State Representative James Roebuck, we got a call from Chevrolet. How would we like to have the Chevy Volt come to our school? They would send one of the engineers who helped develop this-next-new-thing in the automotive world and we’d have a great presentation about range extended electric vehicles.

Wow! We liked the idea so much we invited students from other automotive programs across the city to come. The School District provided a bus. We conference called with the presenters, the P. R. folks and the logistics personnel. We crafted an afternoon’s activities that included a presentation by Chevy, speeches by our Team members about our technology, a question and answer session and time for all of us to get a good look at the Volt.

This morning we arranged a 100 foot parking spot on Hanson Street for Chevy to park the tractor trailer carrying the Volt. We ordered the pizza. We set up chairs. We got the drinks. Then we got the call. The truck carrying the Volt broke down.  We’re not making this up. “Can you flatbed it?” I asked the transport supervisor.  I asked the guy who called from Detroit could they swap the tractor. He asked me did we have a tractor. While we have a lot at the Auto Academy, we didn’t have a tractor sitting around.  So GM had to fend for itself.

The P. R. folks showed up, the press showed up, the students and teachers showed up, the presenter showed up, the pizza showed up, but the Chevy Volt did not. Melanie Fox gave a terrific presentation about the Volt’s technology. Students from West, Randolph and Edison asked great questions. Ron Preiss welcomed all the guests. Sekou Kamara, Alexis Bland and Azeem Hill all gave wonderful speeches. We all had a great time talking to each other and learning.

It is good to feel good about the exchange of information and meeting lots of new students. But, here’s the bad part. It is Schadenfreude.  I am getting some sort of significant delight that GM couldn’t get their super new car to West Philly because of mechanical problems. Let me be clear. I like GM. I like Chevy. I own a Malibu Hybrid. It’s the best looking car I’ve ever owned. It gets great mileage. It’s never had a mechanical problem.

Before I became the manager of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, I was a fan who faithfully followed the Team competitions.  Inevitably, the day before a race, Simon Hauger would tell me that the car was broken and we wouldn’t be able to go. Of course, if you take a look at our record, you’ll see that Simon and the team always managed to get the car to the race and more times than not, they won. That’s why I have always had tremendous respect for Simon.

Today, my respect for Simon grew by about 25-fold. We got to our races raising the money we needed through bake sales and there we were listening to how many Chevy Volts they crashed tested at hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop and how it took about a quadrillion zillion dollars of research and development to create the Volt.  And they couldn’t get the car from New Jersey to West Philly.

Chevy, I love you. It was a great day, a wonderful visit. I just can’t wipe the smirk off my face. I’m so sorry.



Thoughts on Renaissance

We wanted to share with you some of our thoughts and our classmates' thoughts on the Renaissance List.  As some may know, West Philadelphia High School is on the list.  We think this is not a good idea for many reasons.  We don't see the students coming to school for an hour longer and two Saturdays a month.  There are more students going to drop out. They should not transfer teachers, because they really help students deal with problems at home.  Our teachers are nice, and they know what they are doing.  Momo and I are really excited for college.  We are also very nevous, but we want to make sure that our high school is still the same place we left it.  We loved being in Auto and do not want that program to go away.

Below are two lists of ideas from the junior class in the Auto Academy.  A couple of the seniors ran a group filled of five to six juniors and asked the group two questions, "What are your concerns about West becoming a Renaissance school?" and "How would you create your ideal school?"

Thank you

Momo and Khaleda

Concerns about West Philadelphia High School becoming a Renaissance school.

1.  Will there be a raise in the drop out rate because students do not want to go to school longer or on Saturday?

2.  Our trans-passes do not work on Saturdays, how will we get to school?

3.  Who decides and what criteria will be used to pick the teachers that stay?  When will that happen? 

4.  Due to the longer day, will the length of the classes change?

5.  If we are a Renaissance school, what will our uniform look like?

6.  Lack of motivation to stay longer and come to school on Saturdays

7.  Is this a violation of student rights to not allow transfer?

8.  What will the graduation date be for seniors and will that interrupt summer programs offered by college and universities?

9.  Was the walk-through a formality for Arlene Ackerman and does the superintendent have personal ties to this school and the school district?

10.  What is the response from the alumni of West? 

11.  What does the classroom size look like in a Renaissance school?  How many new transfers will West receive since it is a community school and will that change the safety climate in the classroom?

12.  Will colleges and universities not accept students from West because it is a Renaissance school with a negative tone?

13.  There is not a clear standard for any aspect of a Renaissance school: longer school day, two Saturdays a month, teacher transfer?  There is not a clear standard or criteria for anything about a Renaissance school.

14.  What does a Promise Academy look like?

15.  Are we really going to have 50% of our teachers back or will teachers decide to leave and close to 70 to 80 % of the staff will not be here?

16.  Why the extra hour and not a complete change of the curriculum?

17.  Why get rid of the teachers?  What data supports that it is the teacher's fault for low test scores and poor climate?

Ideal School

1.  Able to leave the building for lunch.

2.  No uniforms

3.  Art classes

4.  Allow electronics

5.  Upperclassmen receive laptops for the school year

6.  More Outward Bound trips and field trips

7.  No hall-passes needed

8.  Rotating Block Roster

9.  7:45 am start to the day, 2:30 p.m. end of the day

10.  More trade courses

11.  Work rosters for upperclassmen

12.  Trans-passes given to each student

13.  More active science lab.  We want to actually do experiments and dissections.

14.  Early dismissal every Friday.

15.  Better and more nutritious food in the cafeteria

16.  Partnerships with local city universities


How We Got Our Name

I wasn’t there at the very beginning.  At the start of it all it was Simon Hauger, math and physics teacher at the West Philadelphia High Auto Academy, and a group of students who entered the science fair. It was 1998. The kids in Simon's after school program built an electric go-kart. They won the science fair. It was a remarkable achievement. There had never been a science fair winner from West Philadelphia High School, let alone form the Auto Academy.

The after school program grew from building science fair projects to competing in the Tour de Sol, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious alternative fuel vehicle race.  The students built an electric car and became the Electric Vehicle, or EV Team. Besides building electric vehicles, they built hybrid and biodiesel vehicles, but the name stuck.

When we entered the X PRIZE, there were many suggestions about what our team name should be including X-Treme Team, X-Dream Team, and many other hokey suggestions. We kept our original team name and added the X: EVX Team.  However, we thought the name wasn’t quite descriptive enough, so we gave ourselves an official name, too. We would be the West Philly Hybrid X Team.  EVX would be the name of our cars. A little confusing having two names for one team, but it looks good on our logo.

Now, it looks like an extremely good idea since there is another EVX Team in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE.  You can check out their website and follow them in the competition, too.  We hope that you take a look at all our competitors and see all the different ways teams are getting to 100 MPGe. Follow their progress and the new technologies. At the end of the summer we hope that they will all follow us across the finish line. We’ll keep you posted.