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Weber State University students will design and build a 20-seat electric bus for Hill Air Force Base.

The bus will transport passengers on and off the base, said Dave Erb, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology. The vehicle will serve as a prototype for other buses that may be built later, Erb said. Students hope to finish the bus by next summer."Weber State's experience with electric vehicles provides us with the knowledge necessary to develop alternative-fuel vehicles," said Steve Rasmussen, air-quality expert at Hill Air Force Base.

The project is the most ambitious in a host of vehicle-design projects in Weber State's engineering technology program, Erb said.

Weber State students won first place in an international design contest by producing a "hybrid" vehicle that used gas and electricity for power. The vehicle ran more efficiently on electricity.

Base officials want the bus to run on electricity and natural gas. They said the bus project is part of an effort to convert passenger vehicles to alternative fuels.

Erb said new environmental laws will result in fewer gasoline-driven vehicles. Electric vehicles cause little or no harm to the environment, he said.