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Millennials are born between 1977 and 2000, and make up 25% of the U.S. population. The trucking industry could be a perfect fit for this technologically savvy generation.

Waiting in the wings: The next generation of freight efficiency junkies

May 1, 2018
I can rest easy now. The future of trucking technology is in good hands.

I can rest easy now. The future of trucking technology is in good hands.

Last week I was in Sonoma, California at the Shell Make the Future California and Eco-marathon Americas event. It was a four-day festival featuring discussions on the global energy challenge and also showcasing innovative ideas.

One of the highlights of the event was the Shell Eco-marathon mileage challenge. It featured 99 teams of high school or college students from across North and South America vying to see who could go farthest on the least amount of energy.

The results were impressive.

  • A team from Brigham Young University had the highest MPG at 1,984.4 miles per gallon with an internal combustion engine.
  • A team from Duke achieved 367.9 miles per kilowatt hour with a battery electric vehicle
  • Another team from Duke reached 383.1 miles per cubic meter of hydrogen in a vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell

I consider all the participants winners.  Many were high school students who impressively competed with these major universities, some travelling thousands of miles with the car to be part of this great event.

Amazing stuff. And heartening too. All too often I hear people whining and complaining about the lack of ambition in millennials. I have to tell you, none of these “kids” I saw lacked ambition, enthusiasm or talent.

So I, for one, am extremely optimistic about future technological developments in the area of efficiency and emission reductions. These kids are on it.

And right behind them were the 700 students and teachers from three California counties who are part of STEM programs. These kids came to participate in activities that embraced science, technology, engineering and math. They learned how salt-water can power a model car. In my opinion, it’s never too early to get kids involved in all the cool stuff about transportation. This was a great chance to plant some seeds in young minds about the great things going on in transportation.  And yes I know cars are not trucks, but there is enough crossover that if you get them interested in cars it is a short hop to them seeing that big trucks are even cooler.

Knowing that there are these really talented minds poised to take over as the next generation of technologists, should make all of us think better about our future.  In fact, our role can, in part be, how we model and mentor this next amazing generation.  Look for ways you can work with the next generation of bright thinkers to see just how far we can take this fuel efficiency idea.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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