Young green minds show off their talents in Houston

There have been a lot of advances in green transportation in the past few years. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, for example, gets a remarkable 112 combined miles per gallon equivalent, making it the most energy efficient car available in America. Currently, it's only available on the west coast, but will be hitting eastern markets later this year.

Some of the brightest engineering minds in the world came together last week in Houston, Texas, to test the efficiency of their vehicles that could someday rival the i-MiEV.

The Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012 competition drew in entrants from 37 high schools and 44 colleges, a record number for the event, according to National Geographic. In sum, there were 124 teams from the United States, five from Brazil, five from Canada and two from Mexico.

Shell says on its website that the number of cars on the road is predicted to be triple what it is today by 2050. Because of that, the company began the Eco-marathon competition to spark interest about fuel efficient transportation in younger generations.

The competitors must complete a six-mile drive around downtown Houston with an average speed of 15 miles per hour, attempting to obtain the best fuel efficiency possible.

There were a lot of firsts in this year's competition, Dick Williams, president of Shell Windenergy, told National Geographic.

“This is the first time someone got their head shaved because their team had a good run," he said. "This is the first year we had a team mascot [a guy in a plush horse suit], and our first articulated car [a team from Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota used segmented hockey sticks as part of their chassis to facilitiate sharper turns]."

While of course the engineering advances are great, the enthusiasm shown by the participants is an even better sign for the future of green technology.

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