HAN Ecomarathon: students work on sustainable mobility

Building a super-efficient car with a maximum of €1000: once again, this academic year, students of the HAN are proving that it is possible through the HAN Ecomarathon. Edition 13 is coming up! Although corona is a bit of a wet blanket. On Friday 11 June, 10 groups of HAN Automotive students will compete on the Midland circuit in Lelystad. This sustainable race is not about noise and speed, but about contributing to sustainable mobility and an environmental friendly future.

Who was the founder of the HAN Ecomarathon?

HAN Automotive teacher Wijnand Zwart is the creator of this Ecomarathon. He has a rich technical career in business, is a passionate designer and has already built several vehicles himself. “It’s great that this project still exists and that every year a new group of students design different sustainable vehicles with a lot of passion and love and also make them drive!”. The students benefit enormously from Wijnand’s experience, which he shares via the Microsot Teams meetings he has with each team.

A group of Automotive students, building a vehicle for the HAN Ecomarathon. Left to right: Yoan Ivanov, Aarthik Hoelas, and Jarno Copier. Photo: Gerard Burgers

Who will participate?

From the start of the academic year, 10 teams have busy with their vehicle, in preparation of the HAN Ecomarathon. Many international students of the Automotive Engineering course are also participating. They are working on 3D designs, validating the devised systems and looking for ways to fund their project. Over 90 students are participating, devided into 10 teams from which 4 are international teams including students from Bulgaria, Vietnam, Aruba, Latvia and Moldova. This brings cultural challenges that none of the students has experienced before.

Working with Automotive students from other cultures?

Yes, that is exciting! How do you work together when you have to bridge cultural differences? We’ve asked Sander, student Engineer Bodywork and racing driver. “When collaborating with international student, you discover that good communication is very important but can be challenging. Things that are normal according to Dutch standards can be seen as offensive to, for example, a Bulgarian team member.

How are vehicles made?

With the help of various teachers and a budget of €500, the students are able to realise the actual vehicles. The budget can be doubled if the team manages to recruit sponsors for their design and driving vehicle.

What are the safety regulations based on?

The safety regulations and racing rules are based on the Shell Ecomarathon. In order to be able to comply with the corona measures, each team is allowed to use the workshop one daypart a week.

Where are the vehicles made?

The vehicles must be made in a workshop on the HAN campus in Arnhem.

What do students learn form the HAN Ecomarathon?

For most students, the switch from theoretical learning to practical work is very welcome. Mathematics, brainstorming and research are now replaced by grinding, welding and drilling. Paul Claessen, tutor of this project, sees this change as something good: “By actually making the self-conceived design, students learn what the impact of errors or ambiguities in a design can be. Things that weren’t done right in the design and validation phase are now coming to the surface. This gives students the opportunity to learn how to correctly make a design and what they should take into account in a different way”.

Will everything work out well with the strict corona measures?

Paul: “Yes, with all the corona measures, building a vehicle is a major challenge. Staying motivated for a lesson is also not easy for students. Desipte this, the attitude of the teams is excellent and the motivation for this project is high. Everyone keeps working very hard to eventually appear at the start of the Marathon with an optimally functioning vehicle and to take a shot at the title “Winner of the HAN Ecomarathon 2021.”.


Photography: Gerard Burgers, Paul Claessen and Ad Vereijken