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EPA Administrator Visits West Philly High Students Who Designed Award-Winning Hybrid Cars

Release Date: 05/11/2009
Contact Information: Terri White 215-814-5523

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2009) - - EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made a special trip today to West Philadelphia High School where students have designed two hybrid vehicles that may one day hit the commercial market. Congressman Chaka Fattah and Lisa J. Nutter, president of Philadelphia Academies Inc., joined Jackson in learning how the students are shaping the future of super fuel-efficient vehicles.

“These students are pioneering change, and showing us that the environmentally sound thing to do is also the economically sound thing to do,” said Administrator Jackson. "They know we don’t have to choose between a green economy and a green environment."

As part of West Philadelphia High School’s Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering, the students are learning to design and build electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. They are entering two of their hybrid cars in an international competition in which winners will share a $10 million prize.

“The young people at West Philly High are to be commended for their hard work, skill and innovation in designing these two hybrid cars,” said Congressman Fattah (D-PA-02). “The young minds from the neighborhoods of Philadelphia are not only training for the green jobs of tomorrow, they are on the ground floor of building a greener, more robust tomorrow for all Americans. And they are receiving a big assist from the EPA and Lisa Jackson, the agency's forward-looking Administrator.”

Philadelphia Academies Inc. partners with EPA to expose public school students to environmental and science careers. Its president, Lisa J. Nutter, emphasized the long term value of preparing youth for career and real-world experiences.

“In the Progressive X PRIZE Competition, our students are competing internationally against automakers and innovators to design a viable, clean and super-efficient car,” said Nutter. “The real challenge is preparing all of our students for an uncertain environment, an uncertain economy--a yet to be defined innovation in industry. While we can not remove these uncertainties, we can better prepare young people for a healthy transition to adulthood by organizing positive adults around the future goals of young people. For 40 years Philadelphia Academies, Inc. has been creating a community of adults that expose students to life-opening choices using careers, industry and the real-world as a “hook”. In return, we’ve witnessed young people do some pretty extraordinary things in the face of significant challenges---maybe even win the X PRIZE competition.”

Last year, EPA awarded a grant to Philadelphia Academies Inc. that enabled the students to visit EPA’s hi-tech laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the agency conducts testing to certify that vehicles and engines meet federal emissions and fuel economy standards. EPA scientists and engineers at the lab also help develop technologies to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Their trip to EPA’s lab helped the students improve their designs and gain a better understanding about fuel efficiency. Their four-door sedan will run by both electric battery and fuel, and the team’s two-seater sports car will operate by electric battery and vegetable oil-based fuel.