High school kids doing what Detroit can't manage

With all the trouble the American car industry is having trying to adapt to high fuel prices, it's amazing to see what an 19-year-old kid can do.

Ben Gulak showed off his Uno, which is powered by a wheelchair battery, at the 2008 National Motorcycle Show in Toronto, then was featured on the cover of Motorcycle Mojo Magazine.

Gulak picked up engineering and design basically by himself in high school, at science fairs and from his recently deceased grandfather, who gave him run of a machine shop. He was inspired to build the cycle after being overwhelmed by the pollution he witnessed in China on a 2006 visit.

Despite Gulak's obvious talents, he got wait listed last year at MIT. Instead of settling for another school, he worked on the Uno. Now MIT is bragging about having him start this fall.

So far there's only one Uno, though Gulak's nascent website makes it seem like he'd like to sell more. The Uno gets up to 14 miles an hour, though he told the Chicago Tribune he thinks he could juice it up to reach 40 mph. Like the Segway, the rider controls movements just by leaning.

Unlike the Segway, the Uno looks cool, like a Batman motorcycle. If you were a cop on patrol, which would you rather use?

Gulak did get some help from some experts to fine-tune his project, but he's still just a kid with a high school degree. He's yet another example of entrepreneurial engineers far out-shining the massive auto industry. Another is Jonathan Goodwin, who converts cars like Lincolns to get 100 mph and has even juiced a Hummer to get 60 mph. If he can pull off this engineering feat, why can't Detroit?
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