At Dartmouth College's fourth annual Formula Hybrid International Competition last week, graduate and undergraduate electrical, mechanical and computer engineering students showed off high-performance plug-in hybrid vehicles they had designed and built. This year's race pitted 24 teams from the U.S. and abroad—including those from Italy, Russia and Canada—against one another in the areas of presentation, engineering design, acceleration, maneuverability and endurance.

A team from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, won the overall competition, followed by the teams from Texas A&M University and the University of California, Davis.

Teams typically spend eight to twelve months designing, building, testing and preparing their open-wheel, single-seat vehicles for the competition, held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

The most challenging event at the competition, according to organizers, tested the endurance of each vehicle. All the vehicles began the endurance event having fully charged their accumulators (whether batteries or capacitors) from the grid, as is the norm for a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The objective was to cover a designated distance on a fixed amount of energy in the least amount of time.

An international field of 35 professional engineers from the automotive and motorsport industries scored teams on proficiency in engineering design and their car's track performance.