LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Motor Trend named the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro its car of the year. And some local college students are making one 2016 Camaro into the "car of the future," by converting it into a hybrid.
"Most of the manufacturers nowadays are moving into high performance electric and hybrid vehicles, so this is the future," said David Blekhman, professor of engineering at California State University Los Angeles.
A team from CSULA is busy with its entry into EcoCAR3, a national contest for engineering students. The Camaro, donated by General Motors, will become a gas-electric hybrid, with plug-in capability. That means layers of challenges for the students.
"This is kind of like the practice run right before we jump into the real world," said Manuel Castaneda, an engineering student and member of the team.
The competition is treated like a project for a car company over a four-year period, with a real deadline looming. The students' car needs to be completed by May.
"Sometimes when you're doing the late nights and you've been here like 12 hours, you're thinking, 'What did I get myself into?' Especially since you're not really getting paid for it. But it's for your own benefit. You can really get the most out of it," said Melissa Hernandez, an engineering student working on the EcoCAR3 team.
CSULA is the only team competing from California, and is relying on sponsorship for funding. Once their car is complete, it will head to the General Motors proving grounds in Yuma, Arizona.
Those proving grounds will feature extreme temperatures to test the students' work, as well as GM personnel on hand for the judging.
They can mentor the students and possibly even make good contacts for future employment.
"It's all about getting to meet your potential employers, you get to socialize and network, and then they get a feel for you," Hernandez noted.
Hernandez and her fellow students could end up someday creating the cars we'll all be driving in the future.