Experiential Learning

Purdue Calumet engineering students
design, race EVs; learn experientially

Taking advantage of applied, experiential learning opportunities, a team of Purdue University Calumet engineering students designed, developed and raced electric vehicles to top 10 finishes in two recent Electric Grand Prix competitions this spring.

Thirty-four vehicles in race

Nick Dres of  Valparaiso drove one Purdue Calumet electric kart to an eighth place finish, while Nick Raab of Crown Point finished 10th in another kart at the Purdue West Lafayette EV Grand Prix (April 27). During the 50-lap Purdue EV Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (May 12), Nick Lamber of St. John claimed a fifth place finish, while Raab settled for sixth after holding second place until victimized by a multi-kart accident with five laps to go.

Thirty-four vehicles were registered to compete in both events, some coming from as far away as England.

Real world applications

“The opportunity to apply lessons and principles in a real world, competitive environment such as these races is so valuable for engineering students,” Purdue Calumet Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Donald Gray said. “Supporting the success of the Purdue Calumet karts was a host of engineering students. The foundations were laid last year by an initial group of senior design students. Numerous others contributed this year.”

Serving as design team kart leaders this spring were TJ Holt of Dyer and Jeff Martinez of Oak Lawn, Ill. Other design team members were Shuo Qu of Qingdao, China; Lamber; Chris Bachis of Beecher, Ill.; Maria Frebis of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Sultan Alowaid of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Supports research efforts

Additionally, according to Gray, seniors Dres, Alejandro Hernandez of East Chicago, Clay Yankauskas of Lafayette and Bryan Lopez of Griffith provided vehicle telemetry and data collection to support research efforts in the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“These students also provided the vehicle telemetry for Purdue Calumet’s recent competition in the Great Moonbuggy Race at the NASA Space Center in Huntsville, Ala.,” he said.

Joining Gray in supervising the Purdue Calumet students were Professors David Kozel and Constantin Apostoaia.

Others volunteered to help

Purdue Calumet 2012 mechanical engineering alumnus James Montgomery of Steger, Ill. also assisted by providing space, equipment and know-how “without which these vehicles could not have been built,” Gray said.

Also helping with vehicle construction and crew activities were Raab, Jonathan Summerlott of Highland, and Crown Point residents Alex Olandezos and Harry Manos.