April 25, 2012
The EV (electric vehicle) Challenge is a program for high school students to replace traditional automotive technology programs with a new idea: Take a donated (or even abandoned) gasoline-powered car or truck and convert it into an all-electric vehicle.
Students learn about design, engineering, electronics, math, and science. They make hard decisions and learn about tradeoffs (larger voltage batteries have higher acceleration capability, but won’t last as long in endurance runs, for example). Students then come together to compete with their vehicles in a two day long event held at the NCCAR Test Track facility in Garysburg, NC. Please note that is not a typo for NASCAR, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some cars that get tested have something to do with the pro racing circuit in the future. NCCAR stands for North Carolina Center for Automotive Research.
Students take written tests, compete in Jeopardy rounds, demonstrate and explain their vehicles to judges, and finally physically compete in acceleration tests, endurance tests (driving until the batteries fail completely) and then on the second day have an actual race with their cars.
The challenge for many of these schools and classrooms is finding affordable test equipment and tools. Harris Educational (also known for their Reinventing Edison Light Bulb Kit and the Reinventing Morse Telegraph Kit) was hired to design and manufacture a new troubleshooting board for their event. The program wanted a smaller, portable, and less expensive model that schools can afford to add to their classrooms or labs so that students can learn about electric vehicle circuits and how to troubleshoot them as a way to practice for the real competition. The program is seeking sponsors to allow more high schools to participate.
“The Electric Fox” is a converted Ford Mustang that North Carolina McMichael High School found abandoned in the woods. They will exhibit their car at the Burlington North Carolina Mini Maker Faire this coming weekend.
It is exciting to see high school programs that keep up with the market and that have an interest in electric and alternative vehicles. More information about the EV Challenge can be found here: http://ev-challenge.org.