Purdue charges ahead with inaugural evGrandPrix
Purdue held the inaugural Electric Vehicle Grand Prix on Sunday as part of a program to educate a new generation of highly skilled workers to design, build and service electric vehicles. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
With three little words, Purdue rolled into position as a world leader on Sunday: "Drivers, power up!" commanded President France A. Córdova.
And the University's inaugural Electric Vehicle Grand Prix race was under way, 17 go-karts humming around the track, vying for top place in the 80-lap event at the Purdue Grand Prix track.
In the race, the first collegiate electric go-kart race in the nation, vehicles approached speeds of 45 mph, finessed the zigs and zags of the chicane, tangled in pile-ups, and overtook one another with appreciative air horn blasts from the stands. More than just a spectator event, however, it signaled Purdue’s significant leadership in the emerging world of electric vehicles.
The Purdue Electric Vehicle Grand Prix was conceived as part of a $6 million grant awarded to the University in August by President Barack Obama for creation of the Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium (I-AEVtec). The consortium is led by Purdue and includes Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the University of Notre Dame, Purdue Calumet and IU Northwest. The group is charged with educating and training the workforce needed to design, manufacture and maintain the electric vehicles of tomorrow. Two of the teams competing in Sunday's race represented Ivy Tech; the others were from Purdue.
The consortium will develop certificate and associate degree programs for vehicle technicians, bachelor's and master's degree programs for electric vehicle design and manufacturing engineers, and a certificate program in electric vehicle safety for emergency responders. It also will contain an outreach program to secondary schools and a website to provide information on electric vehicles to the general public. An estimated 2,000 people attended Sunday's race.
"The development of course material in various aspects of electric vehicle technology is not enough," said Jim Caruthers, professor of chemical engineering and I-AEVtec director. "We need also to excite young people about this technology so that they will begin to dream about how they can be part of this green revolution in transportation. The evGrandPrix is an excellent way to engage students in the emerging electric vehicle technology and have a good time as well."
The grand prix was organized by students from the Electric Vehicle Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) teams and those enrolled in electric vehicle courses. Multidisciplinary teams designed and built the energy-efficient karts. The winners were judged not only on who crossed the line first, but also on power efficiency, kart design and community outreach.
David Rozovski, an industrial engineering doctoral student aspiring to become a test pilot and astronaut, and driver for IE Racing 1, stood by his vehicle at halftime during Sunday's race. The break, 40 laps in, was required of all teams so that their karts could take on freshly charged batteries.
"It was a fantastic experience. We learned a tremendous amount through the build process and the race," he said. "I believe the event is going to have tremendous impact on electric vehicles in the future, not only from an innovation standpoint but also because the individuals exposed to the event will apply it to what they do when they leave Purdue."
More about the race and project is at www.evGrandPrix.org. The top three teams in the race were:
1. Kart 39, driven by Brett Hensler for the Delta Sigma Phi racing team.
2. Kart 22, driven by Adam Kilgore for the KillaWatts racing team.
3. Kart 23, driven by Adam Pockrus for the Met Power Savers racing team.
A photo gallery from the evGrand Prix is here.