German H2GP Finalists Hope to Make an Impact on the World Stage¨
“It’s the dream of every European child to travel to the USA one time, the country where you have big dreams and you can do anything.”
One of the most exciting things about the Horizon Hydrogen Grand Prix (H2GP) is that students get the chance to travel all the way across the world to show off their renewable energy engineering skills. The EGE Hydrofoxes are the 2023 finalist team from Germany, and during our interview with them, we got a better understanding of how H2GP empowers students to take control of their own learning. This team was established four years ago and is entirely self-managed, meaning students oversee all aspects of planning, engineering, and technical problem-solving without much need for teacher involvement.
The Hydrofoxes organize all aspects of their team themselves: they book their own travel and handle their own marketing. Recently, the team even took part in a three-minute Live TV feature with German media outlet Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk.
This year’s Hydrofoxes are motivated to make a mark on the world stage at the upcoming World Final in Las Vegas, scheduled for September 11-14th 2023. At the Vegas race they’ll be showcasing a brand-new car design, hoping to make an impact on the world stage. Read our full interview with Bastian Dietz, Robert Dietz, Ruban Fuchs and Lukas Riedel from the team below:
Hi team Germany! We hope you’re looking forward to traveling to the H2GP World Final in Las Vegas in only 6 weeks from now. How did you become interested in H2GP and join the program?
Ruben: We actually started four years ago. Our teacher came to us with a nice model cars and hydrogen fuel cells. Once we saw the technology from Horizon Educational we loved it – we all said yes, let’s do it. Our teacher also really motivated us to begin with the H2GP, but even after one or two weeks he said “It’s nice things you do but I can’t do anything anymore, you’re way too far ahead of me.” From there we just kept learning more and more, we started to construct a completely new car and also model it. We had one race to compare us to other schools in Germany, and there we saw that we were kind of top class already.
That’s absolutely fantastic. In under 6 weeks you’ll be traveling all the way across the world to Las Vegas to compete in the H2GP World Final. How does it feel to be making this once-in-a-lifetime journey across the world?
Bastian: We are very excited to come to Las Vegas. It’s the dream of every European child to travel to the USA one time, the country where you have big dreams and you can do anything and we are very grateful that we can travel to the US and that we have the money and the time.
Great – is there anything else you are working on?
Ruben: Our drivers are preparing for the race. So we’re meeting regularly now. At this time we have holidays in Germany, so it’s difficult to get them together to race, but in two weeks the holidays are over so then they go full power and we’ll start to do some practice driving.
Fantastic. And is this practice driving with other teams or just by yourselves?
Ruben: We have four teams at one school, so four cars, we all developed these cars together, so we drive against the others. So every driver from us can race at the same time.
How was it when you were just starting out? What was it like in your first year?
Ruben: We gave everything, we tested our car, and found out some weak points, then we developed a completely new car where all these weak points aren’t anymore. And then last year we actually made it to the H2GP World Final in the Netherlands, and there we won the innovation prize. So this was for our team the perfect moment to see that all the time, all the effort we put into the car paid off. But we are not standing still, we are still developing after the first year.
Ruben: The biggest challenge was getting money to develop. Just imagine if sixteen- to eighteen-year-old boys come to you and say “hey, we need money to build an RC car”. It’s a tough sell. So we had to do a lot of marketing to get the money to develop anything. And this was kind of difficult. Until now it was one of our biggest problems, but we overcame it.
What is it about the H2GP and these cars that brought you to it – that made you excited about it, that wanted to make you involved in it?
Ruben: For me it was the engineering process, so modeling something and bringing it to life on a 3D printer or the CNC mill. This was for me the perfect opportunity to practice new engineering skills and also develop some things I can now use at work. This was my intention.
Lukas: I started this project because of the constructing aspect, it was an opportunity to build something cool. I’m also interested in hydrogen as an energy source because I think it can be a future technology instead of e-fuel. Instead of pure electricity.
Bastian: I also think it’s a very good opportunity for younger people in school to learn something about the topic of hydrogen – hydrogen is very important for our future. Our youngest team member is 12 years old and he is already very much involved with the topic of hydrogen. It’s a very young technology and we can watch how it will be upgraded and we can also make our own upgrades and I think that’s very important, that we can make a little bit of innovation as well.
That’s fantastic. And is there something you think that sets your team apart from the other teams? That makes you different from the other teams that might be coming to the World Final in Las Vegas?
Robert: I think the biggest point is that we are only a student team. We have two teachers coming with us because it’s a long journey and we have no chance to do it alone, but on the other side in the team itself we are only students and all what we learned, we learned by ourselves. We didn’t have any help from outside. So I think this is one of the points where we are very different to a lot of or all other teams.
Ruben: Yeah, we kind of changed the entire car, because in Assen [at last year’s world final] we had some major problems with our hydrogen system and there we had some leaks and so on, so we kind of changed the entire car so these problems won’t happen again. Because if these problems weren’t there, we could have placed fifth. Fifth place would be possible, so we changed the car so this these technical problems won’t happen again. And hopefully this year we can make the top five globally at the Las Vegas World Final.
We’d like to wish all teams good luck at the H2GP World Final, scheduled for September 11-14th at RE+ Las Vegas.
Interested in learning more about the H2GP program? Discover more at h2grandprix.com