Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Area students race vehicles they designed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

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LEXINGTON ― North Central State College engineering technology students and area high school students raced experimental vehicles they designed Wednesday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. And although there was no traditional roar from race cars, the crowd was captivated as they watched students take their projects throughout the mostly uphill, asphalt course.

Wednesday’s race in a large parking area at the sports car course marked the 6rh annual Grand Challenge Race.

Dorey Diab, Ph.D., president of NCSC, waved the green flag, starting the race on a perfect sunny, windy day at the famous Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Engineering technology students North Central State College and partnering school’s drove the experimental, electric vehicles, they built as their capstone projects around the course at 7721 Steam Corners Road.

Each team has been building an electric vehicle throughout the year. They began by researching and designing the types of vehicles they might want to build, including frame, steering, braking, gearing, power, and drive options – and the optimal combination to provide the best overall performance and energy efficiency, according to the college.  The students spent the afternoon displaying and racing their design of electric, autonomous, and experimental vehicles.

The event kicked off at 4 p.m. Partnering Schools included Edison State Community College and Pioneer Career & Technology Center.

At the end of the race, Team Kachow, (from the “Cars” Disney film, was named the winner. Team members are: Kat Bryant, Bella Mullins, Evan Wright, Gunner Houston and Elizabeth Newman.

Their instructor Mike Beebe introduced the teams before the start of the event. Teams included high school students in the NCSC College NOW program, who are students earning college credits while still in high school. Other teams included traditional NCSC students who will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering technology on May 10 at the recreation center on the main campus of The Ohio State University at Mansfield/North Central State College off Lexington-Springmill Road.

Beebe told the crowd the race was not a speed race but an engineering efficiency race to get the most laps.

Winners won a coveted Taco Bell card in each division. The overall winner won a $25 Chipotle card, he said. “There is something to be gained by this,” he said to the crowd.

All vehicles had to weigh at least 205 pounds. Two drivers each drove 15 minutes for a total of 30 minutes, Beebe said.

NCSC engineering student Harrison Lunsford, 21, of Mansfield, and his team members arrived early in anticipation of the big race.

Lunsford will graduate May 10 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and hopes to work in the computer-aided design (CAD) field after college. A Madison Comprehensive High School graduate, he participated in the NCSC College NOW program while in high school.

Lunsford’s team of five students called the Dynamic Electrics, included Caleb Christman, 20, of Shelby, who said students’ top speed was limited to 28 mph at this race.

“But it will go close to 40 mph,” he said, noting students practiced at the NCSC Kehoe Center in Shelby with their cars. Christman, who graduated from Colonel Crawford High School, also was part of the College NOW program while in high school, where he earned an associate’s degree. He too will graduate NCSC with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology on May 10. Teammates also included Nick Ramey, Michael Noland and Raina Wiednich.

Another team’s vehicle was unique. The team, called Ecstatic Pneumatics, was air powered using scuba diving tanks. All seniors at NCSC, the team was composed of Kaitlyn Rock of Mansfield, Luke Shepherd of Shelby, Riley Peterson of Bellville and Chance Mullins of Mansfield. Their vehicle was a gas-motor with scuba tanks for their fuel.

The team was worried their vehicle’s fuel wouldn’t take them far.

Their instructor said next year they may need to add more tanks.

“They’re high, high, high on efficiency, squeezing every little bit of air from the tank,” he said.

lwhitmir@gannett.com

419-521-7223

X (formerly Twitter): @LWhitmir

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