Female student soars on Dudley’s AVT team

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Joanna Zieglar is the kind of girl who wants to know what’s under the hood.

“Ever since I was little, I was never really into dolls or anything like that. I have a collection of about 500 toy cars,” she said.

About three years ago, she took her interest to a new level.

The Dudley High School senior joined the school’s Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) team.

Each year, she and her teammates prepare to compete on a big stage in the International Shell Eco-marathon.

“The Shell Eco-marathon is a competition where high schools, colleges and universities come together [and] they build cars and they race it for fuel efficiency,” Zieglar said.

Last year, the team celebrated a big milestone for one of its cars.

“It actually got third place, but we’re excited about it because it took us and two years to build it and it didn’t run the first time.”

“The fact that it ran this time and actually placed, it was very exciting for us,” she said.

Zieglar is one of few young women on the team and would like to see more ladies get involved.

“Maybe the guys can be more hands on, but we’re more [about] design, how it’s actually going to work and we pay more attention to details which impacts everything greatly,” she said.

“I just thought that anytime we had a young lady involved in the program, it accelerated us to the next level,” said Ricky Lewis, automotive technology instructor and AVT team adviser.

Zieglar has had internships and the opportunity to shadow some of the best in the field of auto technology, and is grateful for the support from her team advisors.

“It keeps me motivated to know that people are here for me whatever I do,” she said.

Dudley’s AVT Team is preparing for the 2017 Shell Eco-marathon competition in Detroit.

Zieglar has been accepted into three universities, including being offered a full ride to Lenoir-Rhyne University.