PALMDALE – Students from Knight High School’s Digital Design & Engineering Academy unveiled their finished electric car project on Thursday, demonstrating that the path to clean energy technologies is all hands-on.
The electric car can reach speeds up to 40 mph and a distance of up to 20 miles on a 72 volt power supply taken from six 12 volt batteries.
But the real innovative breakthrough is in the hands-on learning experience students acquired through a real-world approach to technology.
“We provide the kids with experiences that are a little bit out of the box and a little bit more meaningful to them,” James Stockdale, Knight High’s DDE Academy coordinator, said at Thursday’s unveiling.
The electric car was built entirely by students at Knight High’s DDE Academy using a $13,500 grant from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District.
Students from Antelope Valley High School’s Green Enterprise Academy will receive the electric car kit next semester, breaking it down and reassembling it once again to receive the same hands-on experience.
Nykole Kent, teacher and coordinator for the Green Enterprise Academy, said AV High’s program also empowers students to explore the business elements of the clean energy technology industry.
“Throughout the semester, they’ve been learning about the importance of the electric vehicle, why we have them, and what is the financial element of them,” Kent said, noting that next semester’s challenge will be to actually build the electric car.
Stockdale said his students will take their challenge of fuel-less engines to the next level for their next project. “My wife has a 1969 Volkswagen Bug, and because my students have the experience of doing this, they will take the Bug and convert it over to electric,” he announced.
With ambitions of becoming an electrical engineer, 17-year-old Kyle Barrett said putting an electric car together is the first step in getting his foot in the industry’s door.
“So I now know all the basic principles of all the wiring, the voltage, everything that pretty much powers the car,” Barrett said, explaining that the class had only the frame to work with at first. “We had to run every single individual of these wires, we had to run all the batteries, we had to do all the lights, the tires, the brake fluids. Everything.”
Nicholai Pleitez, also 17, said that solving problems with the electric vehicle’s wiring has given him a whole new respect for digital electronics.
“We did have problems along the way, but sooner or later we did feel better once we resolved the problems and got through it,” Pleitez told The AV Times. “But my overall experience – I’m just pretty much glad that we have this feeling of completion; because once you experience this feeling of completion, you just kind of want to pursue it again.”
The passing of the electric torch now goes to Green Enterprise Academy students, who, like 17-year-old Kevin Galvez, are up for the clean-technology challenge.
“This is just the perfect fit for me. I’ve worked with a lot of the same equipment before,” Galvez said, noting his four years of experience with robotics. “Just look at the wiring; it’s very similar to FRC, which is First Robotics Competition. We’re looking forward to taking the car apart and putting it back together.”