2010 Shell Eco-marathon Americas

That’s what this gasoline-powered vehicle designed by college students posted to win the 2010 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Click for more about the fuel efficiency competition.

These 42 teams, made up of 425 college and high school students, took to the streets of Houston, Texas, for the 2010 Shell Eco-marathon Americas on March 26-28. Their goal wasn't speed, but fuel efficiency. The teams came from across the U.S. and Canada and even one from Italy.

Who said cars are boy's toys? These students from Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Wash., made up the first all-girls team at the Eco-marathon.

The ShopGirls, as they're known, designed (usually at a 6.30 a.m. class), built and drove their diesel "Iron Maiden." After a couple of runs under 200 mpg, the team finished the event with a respectable 406 mpg.

Students from Purdue University wire up solar paneling on their vehicle, dubbed "Pulsar". One wing of Houston's convention center was taken over by the students, most of them mechanical engineers who brought with them tools and parts for the inevitable technical problems.

An UrbanConcept entry by Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Ind., goes through the inspection process before being allowed onto the track outside. Here, the cars were "sized" to make sure it didn't go beyond the dimensions allowed.

Teams competed in two categories: Prototypes, which aimed at the highest mileage with streamlined bodies made of carbon and other lightweight materials; and UrbanConcepts, which had to have more of a real world look -- including functioning tail lights.

Mater Dei's entry won the UrbanConcept category, posting 437 mpg.

The teams worked -- and slept -- inside Houston's convention center. Most of the sleeping was done in tents or campers, but a few students found something akin to comfort in sofas set up in the lounge area.

The Purdue University team's Pulsar takes off for a few laps around the street course in Houston. While most of the teams competed in a separate category for gasoline-powered vehicles, Purdue and the Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy, brought solar-powered vehicles.

These two UrbanConcept entries by Louisiana Tech got lots of attention. "Blue" came in second in that category, at 251 mpg.

Anxious students from Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., watch a Shell volunteer measure how much gasoline their engine consumed after 10 laps on the Houston course. Each team had up to four chances to get out on the track and post results.

How's 2,487.5 mpg sound? That's what Laval University from Quebec, Canada, posted with its gasoline-powered vehicle to take home 1st Place in the Prototype category.