Energy Breakthrough veteran Don Elliott is a man passionate about design and innovation, which comes in handy in an event such as the Energy Breakthrough.

Believed to be one of the longest-serving team managers at the Energy Breakthrough, Don, who is based at Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, has been involved in the big event since 1992 – save for a few ‘off years’ here and there. His students are undertaking VET and VCAL courses. These courses for school students are consistent with the National Skills Framework (NSF) as part of their VCE or VCAL certificates.

Don is pictured below, middle, with his successful 2016 team.

Quiet Acheivers

Holmesglen has cemented themselves as one of the teams to watch in the Energy Efficient Vehicle category, taking out several Design and Construction and Display and Presentation categories, the 24-hour trial and the Austin 7 Club Best Hybrid Innovation Awards between 2011 and 2017. Among Holmesglen’s most impressive accolades include the EEV/electric team Overall Winner in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

Bugatti Type 35 EEV

From 2011 to 2013, Don oversaw a unique project – the Bugatti Type 35 EEV (picutred above)

“It was a very successful project winning outright in its category and the Austin 7 Club Best Hybrid Innovation Award. We still use the Bugatti for expo’s such as Science Week, Motorclassica and Open Days,” Don says.

This year will also see Holmesglen will also enter another unique vehicle – a four-wheel EEV.

Before his time at Holmesglen, Don played a critical role in what would be one of the most memorable Energy Breakthrough wins.

Rewind to 1997 and Southern Alliance

The year was 1997 and Don had taken on John Candy’s role in Cool Runnings. He helped cobble together Southern Alliance (pictured below) – a team made up of students, including Don’s oldest son, from four schools around the Mornington Peninsula who were who did not have a school team to compete in.

But unlike Cool Runnings (spoiler alert ahead), Southern Alliance defied all expectations and crossed the finishing line in first place.

“I still remember the moment we won – a very intense time for the team in our pit area. We were swapping first and second position on the track with Wonthaggi S.C. all morning. Finally, we crossed the finish line first,” Don muses.

Southern Alliance returned in 1998, this time made up of five schools from the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, and went one better – this time the team set a new track record.

Still in awe of the younger generation …

After working closely with young people for many years, Don says he is still in awe of the young generation.

“Working with young people keeps me inspired and a sense of satisfaction that our world is in good hands. I enjoy my role as a teacher and facilitator to not only provide education/curriculum in the classroom but to also prepare our students for careers and jobs beyond the classroom,” Don says.

“My philosophy on campus is respect for each other and the environment. Off campus at the Energy Breakthrough, the philosophy of respect continues. After all we are ambassadors for Holmesglen and we must compete with dignity and pride.”