VIDEO: H2 Grand Prix 2023 World Finals by Horizon Educational held at the Venetian in Las Vegas, NV

World's largest hydrogen competition displays STEM achievements

This fall, students from around the globe gathered in Las Vegas, NV for the world’s largest hydrogen competition, the Hydrogen Grand Prix (H2GP) by Horizon Educational. The international competition brings students together to learn about renewable hydrogen power in a way that also teaches problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and other skills needed in STEM fields.

To get started in the program, all student teams begin with the same standard hydrogen fuel cell powered electric car kit. But over the course of the season, the modifications the teams make to their cars are what will determine if they will make it all the way to the world finals. Every year, the world final championships are held in a different location. Last year, they were held in the Netherlands. This year, Las Vegas, NV.

The goal for each team is to build a car that can complete the most laps during the 6-hour Hydrogen Grand Prix. During the race, each team must work together to not only race their vehicles, but to maintain them. They do this hour after hour, when hydrogen cartridges run out, when parts break, when equipment malfunctions. The teams cycle through different roles throughout the competition, sometimes participating as the driver, sometimes being the one to make necessary car repairs. They have a pit crew lane where each student team has their own space to work on and modify their vehicles in real-time, during the race. There, students can be found using traditional tools, like screwdrivers and pliers, while other students can be seen engaged on the computer, scrolling through code, as they work to optimize their vehicles.

The level of student engagement during the H2GP world finals was remarkable. Every student was working on something and every team was working together. They were communicating, actively trying to solve problems and improve their cars’ efficiencies and speeds as the race progressed. The race dynamics gave students the opportunity to work together in a real-world scenario that had them focused, dedicated, and immersed. The quick-paced nature of the race also emphasized other attributes of teamwork, to include decision making, leadership skills, and collaboration. An interesting aspect of the race was how much each student wanted to be there. It was an opportunity that they appreciated, which could be seen in everything they were doing.

What started out as a small competition with just a few teams has grown into an international program that now reaches thousands of students at hundreds of schools. Of the participants, the 40 best teams will make it to the annual H2 Grand Prix world finals competition. During an interview with Nikola Weiss, Race and Program Director at Horizon Educational, Nikola highlighted that employers often recruit students who have participated in the H2GP program. This is because they possess a wider range of skills important for employability, beyond just the hard skills required for the job. Skills like problem solving and collaboration are not easily taught in a traditional classroom setting, but come almost naturally when students are working together to achieve a goal they are all interested in, such as with this event.

The H2GP competition provides students with hands-on experience working with hydrogen fuel, which is an important clean energy fuel for the future. This educational opportunity really delivers impressive results when it comes to offering high-quality STEM education programs for today’s students. As the next season approaches, even more student teams are anticipated to join the races to try and make it to the H2GP world finals. They will be held at RE+ in Anaheim, CA next year where the world's top teams will once again showcase their ingenuity while competing in this highly energetic and exciting event.