The Car That Covid Built - 405 Magazine

The Car That Covid Built

Marty Hepp used his decades of engineering experience and some downtime during the pandemic to build his own solar-powered car.

Marty Hepp used his decades of engineering experience and some downtime during the pandemic to build his own solar-powered car.

While many people picked up new hobbies during the Coronavirus pandemic – baking bread, beginning a yoga practice or training for a marathon – Marty Hepp, engineering CEO of CEC Infrastructure Solutions, decided to build his own solar car.

Hepp, who has a long-time passion of restoring old Porsches in his free time as well as rebuilding and modifying bicycles, fell deep into the pastime of building his own solar car during 2020 when the world shut down.

“I tried to build every component possible,” he said. “It was an interesting challenge.”

And he said it’s like he’s living out a classic Disney lm and he’s Dick Van Dyke.

“My favorite movie as a child was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” he said. “The professor disappearing into his workshop every day and eventually appearing with his miraculous motorcar. It was a dream come true for me to be able to live that out.”

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the inspiration of stories like Marty Hepp’s show that a little time away from the world can give the needed space to create our dreams. It allowed Hepp to slow down from his fast-paced engineering career that he’s been busting through for the last almost four decades.

“I graduated from OU with a civil engineering degree 38 years ago,” he said. “And got a job with a mom-and-pop shop, a small engineering company based out of Oklahoma City called Cobb Engineering Company.

‘I worked there until 1991 and was named the president of myself and three others,” he said, with a laugh. “Through the ‘90s I was able to establish myself as a transportation engineer and landed some big jobs. I became a partner in ’97, and started growing the company, diversifying, adding a lot of different services. In December of 2012, Jim and Laverna Cobb sold the company to me and three junior partners. Around the same time, we expanded our services again, and added MEP — mechanical, electrical and plumbing. And then I bought out the founder in 2013. We continued to grow. I now act as chairman of the board, and I have transitioned a lot of my leadership to 10 other leaders of the company.”

For the kid that loved imaginative Disney movies, his career – and current passion – make complete sense.

“Looking back at my childhood, it’s no surprise that I became an engineer,” he said. “I always loved building things, putting motors in cars and working on old motorcycles.”

Hepp, who tried to build every component possible, works on the car during the pandemic. Photo provided.