UNILAG Students Showcase Self-Built Racing Car in World Contest

Students of the University of Lagos, UNILAG demonstrate their specially built-cars at the world Eco-marathon race.


For the first time in history, Nigerian undergraduates appeared in the world Eco-marathon race.

Eco-marathon competition enables participants to demonstrate their specially built-cars to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency over a distance and time. The expectation is that top performing vehicles will be specially designed for high efficiency use after competition. The competition holds around the world annually among the students of tertiary institutions. And there is also the urban concept category for students at the secondary school level with the Shell Petroleum sponsoring the programme. This year’s edition, 70th in the series, was held in Netherlands in May with the students of University of Lagos, Akoka participating.

Their car branded “Autonov II” was shipped to Netherlands on the account of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) Joint Venture which also footed the bill of building the car and participants’ trip to the country.

The students are 20 in all and they are from different departments in the university, including Mechanical, Electrical, Computer and Chemical Engineering as well as Architecture, Creative Arts and Mass Communications.

They were filled with joy at the reception held in their honour by the university last week. They shared their experiences gained when assembling the car and at the competition.

One of them, Folashade Agbaje, a 400-level Mechanical Engineering student told National Mirror that the achievement was made possible through the spirit of “We can do it.” She drove the car round the reception hall in admiration of the spectators, including the Chairman of the Governing Council of the university, Prof. Jerry Gana and the vice-chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Bello.

She disclosed that the project was not only eye-opener for participants; it also encourages creativity and taking up of challenges among youths. While noting that, although, many other competing teams came up with better designs, they did not look down on themselves by what they were able to present. She believes that the team would come up with a better design and more efficient car in future.

The team instructor and a senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical/Electronics of the university, Prof. Ike Mowete talked about the journey into the project and competition, saying the concept was introduced to the school in 2013 by Shell. “The company enlightened us about the type of cars that fit into the competition and all that required of participants.

We were then told to be ready to go to Europe in May this year if we could come up with a car that fits in,” he recalled. “And that was how we swung into action.” Speaking further, the Professor of Antennas and Radiowave Propagation, told National Mirror that, “That was how we gathered the students that involved in the building of the car together.

We groomed them and divided them into groups based on their fields of study. Some designed the traction system, another did the braking and the channel systems while the rest assembled the body and they all came up with Autonov II.”

Further breaking down the responsibilities of each group, he noted that the mechanical team worked on the braking and steering systems as well as the frame while the students from Creative Art built the body and those from Electrical/ Electronic worked on the control alignment. Corroborating the students, the instructor who said he was proud of the team, stressed that the competition had really broaden their horizon and exposure.

There are many useful things, according to him, that the students got to know as an additional advantage in building the car and in participating in the competition.

“And the effort is an indication that Nigerian youths are also thinking in a right direction alongside their counterparts in the developed world and this will greatly help the country in the development of science and technology education,” he added.

Prof. Mowete however disclosed that Autonov II would be display in the university museum while another one would be built for the next competition in Manila.

In his remark, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was visibly happy over the achievement, attributed the feat to what he called quality education the institution is giving out to its students.

According to him, there were many universities in Europe and America that could not get to the track but our university gallantly performed on the track and this shows that UNILAG has been put on the world map.

“I am really proud of the team and their instructors,” he concluded (National Mirror)

Olusegun Fapohunda
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