SEATTLE -- They didn't have much time or experience but it was an opportunity they could not let get away.
So, students at the University of Washington and supportive professors found an old basement in the Mechanical Engineering Annex that had a garage door. Since then the race has been on to turn that space into an automotive laboratory where UW students hope to take the national lead in new car technology.
They are the newest collegiate team to join the EcoCar competition that has been dominated by the likes of schools such as Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Purdue. Some of the competing colleges have been at this for 20 years. The EcoCar2 contest will be the University of Washington's first attempt.
Members of the group helped with an automotive design that won a smaller contest last year so they know a winning formula when they see it. Group Leader Trevor Fayer, says General Motors, sponsors of the contest, are already impressed with the UW's early work.
They and the other schools will receive a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and begin taking it apart and rebuilding it into a plug-in hybrid. They have complete freedom to make radical changes to current hybrid technology. The goal is to reduce what goes into cars' gas tanks and out their tailpipes.
The team has already spent long nights working in their hastily prepared lab and expects there are more to come on the road to winning the nation's most prestigious automotive engineering contest.
To find out more about the UW's team and the competition click here.