Friday, June 6, 2014

On Saturday, May 31, the Sedra Student Design Centre hosted the third annual Waterloo High School Electric Vehicle (EV) Challenge, providing young students with the opportunity to not only race, but design an build electric cars as a team.  More than that, the teams get experience with hands-on problem solving.

Red electric vehicle on race trackWhen asked about the value of this experience for students, Jamie Cox, a tech design teacher and staff sponsor for the Bluevale Collegiate team, doesn’t hesitate: “It gives them a real-world application for their math and science classes.” With teams spending years creating and redesigning their cars for maximum efficiency, participating students receive endless learning experiences and a tangible, hands-on challenge.

According to Peter Teerstra, Director at the Sedra Student Design Centre, these experiences are more than just and hands-on, after school activity — it's preparation for students' future careers:

The lessons that these students learn as they design and build their vehicles are important skills that will benefit them in their futures.  When these students consider pursuing engineering degrees, they will be ready for the type of hands-on, experiential learning that we value at Waterloo.  Complex, open-ended projects such as the EV Challenge give students the skills and confidence to excel in academics, student teams, entrepreneurial activities, and their careers.

Electric car racing on the Waterloo trackCox agrees, citing the electric car project as great preparation for both post-secondary education and students’ careers. Students from his team have moved into various career paths, with their electric car experience paving the way. He’s even seen students invited into apprenticeships directly out of high school, all because of the skills developed in the electric car project. It’s an invaluable experience for many young students, and a great way to discover post-secondary options that suit their interests.

At this year’s EV Challenge, six teams brought a total of 12 cars to compete in 60 and 80 minute endurance races around the Engineering 5 and 6 buildings. I.E. Weldon Secondary School from Lindsay, Ontario took the top prize — a limo ride and VIP passes to the Toronto Auto Show, where they will showcase the winning car.

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