Solar car team marks sixth first-place finish in international competition

The Purdue Solar Racing team placed first in the Battery Electric Urban Concept category of the April 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas in Houston, Texas. The win — the team's sixth in the annual competition — was with its ninth solar car, the 200-pound Navitas.

"Navitas was, and still is, a tremendous undertaking," said Zack Lapetina, the team's president. "I am extremely proud of the hard work each and every one of the team members put in to make this car a success. I have been blessed to work with such dedicated and enthusiastic team."

The Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 roster includes more than 150 teams from colleges and high schools in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Guatemala. Pictures chronicling the 2013 contest have been posted on the Purdue racing team's Facebook page and website.

The vehicle cost about $70,000 to design and build. Major project sponsors are Lockheed Martin Corp.; TE Connectivity; Advanced Pattern Works; Schlumberger; Airtech; the Purdue schools of Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering; the College of Technology; and the Office of the Provost. A list of corporate sponsors is online at

Working with Lapetina on the team were engineering students James Gilbertson, Sally Ann Keyes, Cody Thorson, Emily Petersen, Zhe Kevin Wang, Alex Van Almelo, Brian Kelley, Zack Smith, Adam Loesch, and Mark Schmidt.