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Record Number Of Female Students Compete For World's Most Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

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More than a thousand students from throughout the Americas are competing this week in California to see who can design the most energy-efficient vehicle.  As Capital Public Radio's Randol White explains, a record number of girls and women are participating this year.

[Natural sound - working on car]

On the Sacramento State campus last week, students put the final touches on their entry for this year's Shell Eco-Marathon at Sonoma Raceway.

They'll join California students from Cal Berkeley, Cal Poly, UCLA, Loyola Marymount and Schurr High School in Montebello.

Shell says this year, nearly a quarter of the participants identify as female, marking the largest proportion for the event to date.

That includes this college senior.

BAEZA: "We can do anything the guys can do."

That's Maria Baeza [bay-zah], one of three women representing Sac State.

Their vehicle uses gas; but diesel, ethanol, hydrogen, and electric batteries are also part of the competition.

Baeza says she likes seeing younger girls encouraged by her work. It's similar to the motivation she's had in past years at the competition.

BAEZA: "Some of the techs who inspect our cars are women as well, so that like pushes us, like I can be there with them, you know."

Teams that can go the farthest using the least energy will qualify for the world championship in London this July.

Last year, Brigham Young won the gas-powered division with fuel efficiency of nearly 2000-miles-per-gallon.

In Sacramento, I'm Randol White.

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