I have always looked up to my father Reynaldo for inspiration. As a child, he sold newspapers in the streets and strove diligently until he finished school and became a successful engineer and family man.

His work ethic, integrity, and outstanding values eventually inspired me to follow his footsteps by pursuing an engineering degree. I thought that perhaps, if I manage to emulate his persistence towards career and life goals, I could become the same man that he is today.

When I heard about the Shell Eco-marathon Asia, I knew that this event was a chance to prove myself. Ever since our school, the University of San Carlos (USC), joined the competition in 2012, I have been a follower of the event, wishing that one day I could become part of the competing team selected by the school.

This year, I finally earned that chance. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I could never let pass.

This same drive, I am lucky to share with my teammates Joerico Cane, Jonie Sumarago, Edward Drazel Abadinas, Gikko Ybañez, Val Loueen Inso, John Rhett Sanchez, and Engr. Jose Arvin Tordillo as our faculty-adviser. Together, we make up team “Handos Sugbo,” which means “move forward, Cebu.”

Just as our team name signifies, we are proud Cebuanos seeking to make a mark in the history of the Shell Eco-marathon Asia. We are motivated to represent not just our school and our city, but the Visayas region as well at this prestigious regional competition, where engineering students from all over Asia battle it out in creating eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles, utilizing alternative sources of energy.

Our participation this year is extra special with the new category that our school entered into, which is the Battery Electric–Prototype Category.

We are aware of the dominance of other countries like Thailand in the competition, but we are not afraid to show the Filipinos’ indomitable spirit to the rest of the world. Learning from previous years, we have improved on our mistakes and pooled together our strengths and passions in order to come up with our best entry this year.

As team manager, I have more responsibilities but I relish such a challenge. I am fortunate because my teammates are just as motivated as I am to come up with the best design for our car—with emphasis on efficiency, sustainability, and mobility, while seeing to it that we source funds from the right sponsors and handle our budget wisely.

Along the way, we encountered a lot of frustrations and mistakes, but we worked tirelessly until we achieved our goals—among them, a fantastic aerodynamic design for our vehicle. The steering system is also a standout, because it’s easy to maneuver. We didn’t stop until we all agreed that our car would be a strong competitor in our category.

We have also enjoyed tremendous support from our families and friends. They proved how proud they are of team Handos Sugbo, by providing generous moral and financial support.

Our education at USC also helped foster our drive toward excellence. As Carolinians, our school trained us to become community-oriented professionals who always aspire for the betterment of society.

Engineering as a discipline is important, because developing our country needs a lot of analysis, planning and designing. I believe that engineers possess great analytical skills that are essential in implementing change. That is why being in this competition means so much to me.

The author, Earl Ray Aniñon, is a 21-year-old, 5th year mechanical engineering student at USC. A record number of 34 entries from 25 engineering colleges and universities comprise the Philippine contingent to the Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2015, to be held at Rizal Park in Manila from February 26 to March 1. Students and the general public can pre-register as visitors to support their favourite student teams and schools. For more information, visit shellecomarathon.ph

Article published originally in BusinessMirror (Motoring)