Electric Car Project Zooms Along as Students Apply Their Career and Technical Education

Teams of students from different disciplines collaborate on an electric car.

by Laura Camper, The Anniston Star, Ala. / January 28, 2016 0

(TNS)  — HEFLIN, Ala. — Thursday morning Kevin Austin, 17, a student at Cleburne County Career Technical School slid into the seat of an electric car that students from five of the school's departments are helping to build.

Automotive technology students built the car's metal skeleton.

"It's like putting together a bicycle," said Trevor Ivey, 17, another of the students who worked on the car, "a bicycle with four tires and an electric motor."

Then the car went to students in the electrical program who installed the electrical system. Welding and collision repair students will build the body and paint it. Business students will create a graphic design for the car's paint and find sponsors for competitions the car will participate in this spring.

"To make this one thing work, it's going to take all of us," said Chrissy Burke, business teacher at the school. "I think that's a good lesson to learn."

This is the first year the school has been involved in the Electrathon Car program, sponsored by the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, automotive technology teacher Darrell Hammond said.

Eddie May, executive director of the council, said for three years it has sponsored schools from its 11-county region in the program. It bought the car kits for $3,700 through a state grant and the students build a car and enter it in an endurance competition at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds. The competition isn't a race; it's a contest to see whose car can go the farthest on one battery, he said.

The program is unique because it focuses on new technology and it teaches students how a product is created in the marketplace, May said. Some people design, others build, still others sell, he said.

"It's a simulation of everything that goes on from A to Z," he said.

Hammond was approached about participating in the program last fall and jumped at the chance. He said he wanted to be involved because he knew the students would be excited about doing something new and fun.

He didn't realize how encompassing the project would be until he picked up the kit just before Christmas.

"They were wanting us to involve as many aspects as we could through the school," Hammond said.

He said it's a good lesson in teamwork for the students.

Because this is the first year the school has participated, the teachers are still working on the process. They still have to decide who will participate in the competition in April and a preliminary event in March.

But it's already been a benefit to the students. Kevin Cavender, the teacher of the electrical program, said students learned to read schematics and figure out a DC electric system, something he's never taught them.

It's also been a fun addition to their school work, said Tim Davis, collision repair teacher.

"It's not something they do every day so, at least right now, they're all in," Davis said.

Brandon Sanders, also 17 and another of the automotive students who had worked on the car, said he was enjoying the project.

"It is something pretty cool and interesting to do," Sanders said. "A lot of vehicles are going to wind up going to electric."

Hammond said when the competition is over, students will dismantle the car and new students will build it next year.

©2016 The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.