Just about any kid who has surreptitiously sketched a car in class has dreamed of taking his super-cool creation for a spin.
Sean Coleman actually had it happen. A drivable version of his winning design for the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas (SEMA) Urban Concept Car Competition was built by Shell. At the SEMA event in Houston in March, Coleman was able to take the city’s mayor for a spin in his sleek, red creation.
The contest required Coleman, a graduate student in industrial design, to refine his knowledge of a suite of design software applications called Autodesk. For inspiration, Coleman studied modern designs by BMW, Mazda, and Ford. He also made sure to stay within the contest’s guidelines for frame dimensions and weight.
The car is a bit smaller than a Smart Car and uses a tiny Honda engine which gets 50 miles or more per gallon. The car Coleman drove was carved out of foam block with a CNC machine, coated in fiberglass, hollowed out, and then coated with fiberglass on the inside, too. “It was basically built like a surfboard,” Coleman wrote on his Facebook page.
No one was more surprised than Coleman at getting the phone call that he’d won.
“There I sat, on the phone at my desk, mouth hanging wide open,
head cocked to the side trying to keep from dropping the call,” Coleman recalls. “Little did I know that in the coming weeks I’d be staring at a tidal wave of emails, phone calls, and interviews.”
Coleman also won something else: a summer internship at Autodesk’s San Fran headquarters.
To see the evolution of Sean’s design from sketch to reality, go to http://bit.ly/seancar