KHS students design, build and race electric car

Kings High School students Hunter Blair and Tyler Lewis (in car) were part of the school’s team at the Greenpower Electric Car Challenge held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 30-May 1. Teams of students from across the country learned to design and build single-seat, student-drive electric cars as part of the challenge. CONTRIBUTED

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Kings High School students Hunter Blair and Tyler Lewis (in car) were part of the school’s team at the Greenpower Electric Car Challenge held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 30-May 1. Teams of students from across the country learned to design and build single-seat, student-drive electric cars as part of the challenge. CONTRIBUTED

Team project taken to a world-famous racetrack.

Kings High School students took to the raceway April 30-May 1 during a special competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Engineering students designed, built and raced an electric car on the iconic track as part of the Greenpower Electric Car Challenge, a comprehensive project-based competition emphasizing applied learning, sustainability and technological literacy. The competition uses the excitement of motorsport to inspire students in STEM education.

The KHS engineering academy team of 28 students began working on the design early in the school year, and the the project culminated with a 90-minute electric car race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Grand Prix road circuit.

Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. and Belcan, LLC partnered with engineering teacher Jason Shields. Siemens donated a F24 car kit and provided technical support, while Belcan donated $5,000 and provided project management support and agile training to the class.

“This project has been an incredible opportunity for my students to gain real world engineering and project management experience,” Shields said. “Our primary goals for the car design were to reduce drag and conserve energy. Since the race was 90 minutes long on two 12-volt batteries, we knew we needed to design a very efficient car body.”

Students used Siemens’ Solid Edge software to create virtual three-dimensional car designs. Siemens also performed 3-D Flow simulations to predict the car’s aerodynamic performance in a wind tunnel using Siemens’ SimcenterTM software.

“Students gained valuable design insight from the computer simulation results, leading them to create optimal aerodynamic lightweight design with minimal drag,” said Paul Caito, Director of Computer Aided Engineering at Siemens’ Center of Excellence. “The design, simulation and testing process that the students followed is aligned with the approach used by automotive manufacturers worldwide.”

KHS students were divided into five teams — body design, chassis re-creation, design surfacing, wind tunnel design and public relations.

“My students learned that hard work and perseverance pay off in the end,” Shields said. “They also learned how to overcome setbacks and embrace failure as an important and necessary part of the engineering design process.”

KHS senior Andra Malburg said the experience will aid her as she studies civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University this fall.

“This project gave me extensive experience with project management, teamwork and meeting deadlines,” she said.

The students raced in two heats at the speedway, competing against other high schools from across the country. In their first year of participation, they earned a 13th place finish overall and ninth place finish in their division.

“I am very proud of my students’ hard work,” Shields said. “We were competing against other more experienced and tested schools. We learned a lot at the race, and we will make the necessary modifications to improve our car and return to the race next year.”

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

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