The Race is On
As part of our commitment to communities throughout our service area, Wheatland Electric sponsors the ElectroRally program, Wheatland sponsors teams from high schools in Scott City and Great Bend who build electric and solar powered cars and compete to see who can complete the most laps in an hour. Strategy is as important as speed-drive fast and do as many laps or go slower, conserve battery and last the whole race.
Students from Scott Community High School are in the midst of crafting an electric car for the 2016 spring racing season. Leonel Castillo, MacKayla Koehn, Karlee Logan, Baron Strine, and Nancy Wiebe make up the Scott Community High School team.
Chuck Ellis, an Art Teacher at Scott Community High School has been overseeing the electric-car program since the late 90s. Ellis has a racing and design background which is what interested him in the program. Much of the success of SCHS’s program can be attributed to his dedication to the program.
MacKayla, head designer-for this year’s electric car (EV), created a sketch for the lightweight and aerodynamic electric vehicle. Being the head designer was a natural fit for MacKayla; she’s taken an art class from Mr. Ellis all four years of high school. When it came time to design the EV, she looked at other cars that had been successful in racing and the aerodynamics and decided which design was best. The team had a goal to have the best designed, engineered and manufactured car.
With only a few rules and guidelines, the student teams are allowed much flexibility in the design and composition of their vehicles. No more than $2,000 can be spent on an electric car which means parts are recycled from one year to the next and batteries last 3-4 racing seasons. The controller and motor in this year’s car are from the second car SCHS ever built (many, many moons ago). Students spend time refining last year’s designs as well. In this year’s car the pedals are built in one piece so they are easier to adjust. Last year the pedals could only be adjusted by unscrewing a bolt. “The devil is in the details. It’s also about quality control, making sure the students are doing it right the first time. They’ll learn this saves us time in the long run. We try to understand the consequences of the design, hoping we don’t have to come back days later and redo something,” said Chuck Ellis, ElectroRally Instructor for Scott Community High School.
In addition to designing, procuring parts for and building their own electric car, teams are required to develop and write an ElectroRally project report. The student prepared reports are evaluated and assigned points. Reports must be turned in, in order to compete for the championship. Most importantly the report score determines their car’s starting position on race day.
Being a part of the Kansas ElectroRally program allows students to be involved in a Cross Curricular Activity. Students combine the use of a welder, grinder, and tube bender from the Vocational Ag Department; design work from the Art Department and the use of the 3D Printer in making custom parts for the electric car from the Construction Technology Department. “The program lets a variety of different students participate. Students might have an interest in engineering or they might have an interest in agriculture. Either way, the experience is good and valuable for all,” said Ellis.
In addition to sponsoring the individual programs at the high schools. Wheatland also helps to put on the Sunflower ElectroRally held each spring at the Scott City Airport. Wheatland provides volunteers to help with the course setup, takedown, grilling hamburgers and hotdogs for all of the race participants and whatever else is needed to help make the race a success.
Make plans to attend this year’s race on Wednesday, April 27th!