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Hiring new engineers in the auto industry is always something of a gamble. Just because someone coming out of school has a 4.0 GPA, it doesn't mean that they are well suited to the day-to-day problem solving and innovation required of a modern engineer. In the past, a lot of new engineers were recruited through co-operative education programs or internships where companies got see students work first hand. However, cost cutting efforts in recent years have caused these programs to be curtailed.

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GM may have discarded the Saturn brand in the company's bankruptcy, but there are still at least 150 young engineers working hard to turn a Saturn Vue into the most efficient vehicle possible. The engineers are all students from 17 universities who are participating in the EcoCAR challenge, the three-year follow-up to Challenge X.

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click above image for a high-resolution gallery of the GM EcoCar

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Peugeot-Citroen HYmotion4 hybrid drive architecture

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The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology crashed a tailgate party in their class-built hybrid before the Indianapolis Colts first playoff game. Competing in the Challenge X, the team showed off its Chevy Equinox that has a biofuel diesel engine and two electric motors. The team has been working on the car for nearly three years and welcomed the opportunity to visit with interested fans. Team members estimate that the crossover SUV will get about 35 mpg and improve the passing acceleration time; a

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(Editor's note: to read the rest of Derrick's NextFest coverage, click here)

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Ohio State wasn't the only school exhibiting an impressive alternative-powered car at NextFest. The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) from Virginia Tech brought along their Challenge X-winning Equinox.

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison placed second in Challenge X, a competition to develop a powerful, fuel-efficient SUV. Unlike many of its competitors, the Wisconsin-Madison team opted to use a diesel engine instead of a regular gasoline engine. This provided the SUV - a donated Chevrolet Equinox - with more torque while still maintaining higher gas mileage. The electric part of the hybrid system also ran continuously: current hybrids only run their electric halves to start the engine, provid

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For the past few months we've reported about the Challenge X competition where various college students--and even a smattering of high schoolers--compete to develop a hybrid SUV. Well, the winners for the second year of the three year competition has been announced. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University won first place with a hybrid that uses 30 percent petroleum. The University of Wisconsin-Madison won second with a biodiesel-fueled, turbo-charged hybrid. Mississippi State Univers

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This week students at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) unveiled their entry for the upcoming Challenge X contest sponsored by General Motors and the Department of Energy. The Chevrolet Equinox donated by contest co-sponsor General Motors is powered by a biodiesel hybrid engine. According to the RHIT team, the SUV should reach 35 miles-per-gallon.

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