Electric cars

Students race electric cars at the Kehoe Grand Prix

SHELBY — The Kehoe Center parking lot at North Central State College in Shelby was filled with electric cars circling around Friday afternoon. This was the fourth year of the Kehoe Grand Prix, where high school kids from Richland, Ashland and Crawford counties and College-NOW students race electric cars they built.

The College-NOW Engineering Academy is a partnership between the Pioneer Career and Technology Center and North Central State College. Students enroll full-time in college, complete their junior and senior years of high school, and earn high school and college credits. At the end of each student’s senior year, students are awarded an Associate’s degree in Applied Engineering Technology.

“We wanted to set up a program where we would be able to teach electrical and mechanical vehicle design, but also projects,” said Mike Beebe, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at North Central State College and one of the organizers of the Kehoe Grand Prix. “It’s a project that’s kind of fun for people. It’s about taking what they’ve learned and how they apply it to a regular project.”

The drivers prepare their cars for the start of the Kehoe Grand Prix on Friday afternoon.

Participating in the Kehoe Grand Prix for students is one of their flagship projects. Each team built an electric vehicle in their own artistic way. “There are different classes of synthesis,” Beebe said. “We have different ones like mousetrap races, crash dummy, wheelchair with crash dummy, wheelchair carrier and a box crusher.”

The race had four students per team, six teams with two drivers, and each group had an hour to run the course as many times as they could. For this project, students had to research and design the type of vehicle they wanted to build, including focusing on the chassis, steering, braking, gearing, power, and drive options that would produce the best performance.

Doug Shenberger passes another E-vehicle with mechanical issues during the Kehoe Grand Prix at Shelby on Friday afternoon.

When asked if the Kehoe Grand Prix was more of a teaching opportunity or an event where students could be creative, Beebe replied, “It’s both, because you set the rules and it’s only 16 weeks, so there’s a lot of work to do. They have to do a theory, a final report, a presentation and drawings. They have to do all of that. They have to manage the project as well and we’re We meet once a week to see the schedule, the tasks and everything. So it’s learning how to execute a project, as well as using a little bit of engineering.”