Chesterton Tribune



PNC team places high in electric vehicle Grand Prix races

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It has been an eventful spring for the members of the Purdue University North Central Electric Vehicle Research Club (EVRC). The vehicle they engineered, programmed and crafted by hand recently earned second place in the Purdue University evGrandPrix race, an adaptation of the storied Grand Prix race for electric vehicles, and took third place in the third annual International Electric Vehicle Grand Prix, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The PNC vehicle was designed and built by PNC seniors Roger Dodrill and Zack Littell, both Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) majors and sophomores Matt Goldschmidt, Chris Mahoney and Mavric Price, all Mechanical Engineering Technology majors.

The vehicle, Number 27, was driven by Tyler Mantell a senior at the Purdue University West Lafayette campus. Dodrill and Littell will graduate from PNC on May 20.

These are the only two races that the hand-crafted vehicle has run thus far and the team members are thrilled with their success.

“We were very excited to pull off a second place win on our first time racing,” said Dodrill.

The competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was even more intense, said Christopher Smith, PNC associate professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology and the EVRC faculty advisor.

Smith noted that the race attracted teams from across the United States and around the world and a third-place finish is a major accomplishment against some of the best electric vehicles in the world.

The teams competed on a track set up next to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, the Indianapolis 500 time trials were going on around them. Adding to the racing challenge was a bumpy asphalt surface.

Dodrill and fellow ECET major Zack Littell committed themselves to running the Purdue evGrand Prix more than two years ago when they got together to form the EVRC. Their mission was to design, engineer, program and run an electric vehicle.

“What they have done these past two years, while working and attending PNC full time, is incredible,” said Smith, adding that team members also raised more than $10,000 from local businesses to help offset expenses.

“There is nothing commercially produced in the kart,” said Dodrill. While some competitive go-karts are kit-made, the PNC vehicle was designed and crafted by hand. It wasn’t always an easy process, but the team members know it was well worth it.

“No one else in the race is using this high-end technology, let alone designing it themselves,” said Smith.

“The vehicle is engineered with a brain that thinks extremely fast,” said Littell. For example, the brain must know to take the vehicle to its maximum, but not exceed it; the wheels have to work independently, but also together, and the global-positioning system must be precise.

The PNC vehicle accelerates faster than most sports cars and is capable of going from zero to 60 mph in four seconds. It can easily reach 125 mph and can be adapted to go faster. Its total vehicle horsepower is 35HP.

The next competition will be an unofficial showcase race at the Purdue West Lafayette Grand Prix Track in October 2013.



Posted 5/16/2013