Steve Zylius / University Communications UC Irvine senior Kevin Sale and fellow engineering students are building clean energy race cars for the first-ever California Challenge at the XPO at the Great Park in October. Download image

UC Irvine named host university of clean energy expo at Orange County Great Park

Samueli School of Engineering to stage first-ever California Challenge car race

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 12, 2013 – UC Irvine has been named the official host university of the inaugural XPO clean energy exposition, which will take place in October alongside the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 at the Orange County Great Park.

The XPO will include the first-ever California Challenge energy-efficient race car time trials. Student-engineered vehicles from across the nation will compete to go as far as they can in one hour on $1 worth of energy from any source. Cars powered by methane and electricity – as well as those with efficient gas engines – will be at the starting line Oct. 5 and 6.

The Solar Decathlon, a renowned collegiate competition, is being held for the first time outside Washington, D.C. The award-winning event challenges U.S. and international collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. Together, the Solar Decathlon and the new XPO will create a powerful showcase for technology, education, arts and business related to clean energy.

“We are thrilled to be part of this wonderful event, which uses energy-efficient houses and next-generation vehicles to highlight the best and brightest young people from around the world,” said Gregory Washington, dean of UC Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering. “Our students, faculty and alumni look forward to participating. We’ll be serving on the Observer Corps for the solar homes, exhibiting the campus’s cutting-edge research and staging the exciting California Challenge.”

The “host university” designation formalizes the important role that UC Irvine has played in planning the XPO, which – along with the Solar Decathlon – will be free and open to the public Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 3-6 and 10-13.

“UC Irvine has always been a cornerstone of the city of Irvine, so it’s fitting that the university would become a major part of one of the biggest events in Irvine’s history,” said Cliff Wallace, deputy CEO of the Orange County Great Park. “Its involvement will certainly add dynamic new elements that visitors will enjoy.”

In the California Challenge, high school and university students will test their skills in designing and building electric and alternative-fuel vehicles from scratch. The racetrack, being built on the Great Park’s former military runways, includes a high-speed section, auto-cross section and a staged idle section.

The California Challenge will add excitement to the XPO and help us extend the clean energy learning experience beyond the house to the driveway,” said Richard King, director of the Solar Decathlon at the U.S. Department of Energy. “We want to connect budding automotive engineers with their contemporaries in the architecture and construction fields. These young minds will need to work together in the future to design houses that can support alternative-fuel vehicles.”

The challenge will be part of the XPO Transportation Zone, where the public will have the opportunity to test-drive fuel-efficient hybrids and zero-emission, plug-in electric vehicles. Combining two well-known alternative-fuel racing programs – the UCI Invitational and Electrathon America  – “the California Challenge is the first national race to evaluate the performance and efficiency of mixed fuels side by side,” said race director J. Michael McCarthy, UC Irvine professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering. “We’re very happy to be doing this.”

As part of its host duties, campus staff will also videotape key presentations at the XPO’s Powerful Ideas Symposium.

California Challenge registration

The California Challenge is an invitational event. Racing teams may apply to enter at http://sites.uci.edu/californiachallenge. For more information on the XPO, visit www.the-xpo.org/xpo.

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteers will play an important role in the Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO and will work alongside organizers. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public who would like to volunteer at the events can register or learn more at http://www.the-xpo.org/participate/volunteers/.

UC Irvine is a fitting partner for the Solar Decathlon 2013 and XPO. Its Henry Samueli School of Engineering is at the forefront of education and research in the engineering disciplines that will shape the future. UC Irvine is ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education and one of the Sierra Club’s top 10 “Coolest Schools.” Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving high-tech hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, it was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, the campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

The XPO clean, renewable and efficient energy exposition will feature visionary and innovative companies, products and educational opportunities alongside the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 on Oct. 3-6 and 10-13. Through fun, interactive exhibits and activities, the XPO will provide visitors with information about the broad spectrum of energy efficiency in home design, transportation, consumer products, food production and education. Visitors will learn ways to implement energy efficiency today and into the future and will leave the XPO with tools and resources to live differently.

Orange County Great Park

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across Southern California enjoy the Orange County Great Park’s recreational and educational opportunities, including panoramic views from the iconic Great Park Balloon that rises 400 feet in the air. Other attractions include the Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Kids Rock Playground, Walkable Historical Timeline, Historic Hangar 244, sports clinics, weekly Farmers Market and other community events. The Great Park is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of the publicly owned portion of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

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