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
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
“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.