Students Assembling Next Generation Of Electric Cars

Apr 17, 2013

Jacob Alexander, Aaron Morris, Linda Powell, and Jonathan Nigus
Credit Kezia Nanda

The power utility Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas is hosting its annual Electric Vehicle Rally on Friday.

Middle school, high school and college students around Arkansas are participating.

It’s a competition that’s fun and academic.

KUAR’s Kezia Nanda visited Cabot High School in central Arkansas as they prepared for the competition.

Imagine not having to fill up your gas tank regularly and the money you’d save. Imagine having a car that’s electric. 

Cabot High School students are working on an electric car, which will compete in the annual Electric Vehicle Rally, during their after school time. 

Credit Kezia Nanda

The 6-foot long car came as a kit and is being assembled by engineering students.

Junior Jacob Alexander said, “It’s a whole lot more efficient than gas cars. Because cars like these days take the nitro gas with a lot of oxygen in it. And this is a whole lot easier. It runs probably five to six hours and all you do is recharge it. It’s not really anything big. If you had the technology, it’d be a whole lot better for the ozone and the global warming.”

The car doesn’t make any noise except sound of tires on the road.

It uses lead acid batteries like those in boats. The batteries are 12-volt and add 40 pounds to the car.

The car can reach 30 mph.

Senior Jonathan Nigus said it has a couple hours of driving time but needs five hours to recharge.

“I think we have the technology. But it’s just too expensive…and this car is trying to bring that down. But even with this, it has such a long recharge time. There’s a lot of work to be done but it is promising and I expect to have electric cars within 20 years,”

Linda Powell, a Pre-engineering teacher has brought her students to compete in the Electric Vehicle Rally for several years.

She said it’s a great learning experience and is also very enjoyable.

Cars compete in acceleration, autocross, and endurance events.

There will also be a trouble shooting contest for students to show their problem solving skills and a quiz bowl contest.

“This is an application of Math, Physics, the engineering that they’ve learned. But it’s also opportunity for them to practice speaking to adults; to participate in a team. The lessons that they learn from this touch so many different aspects of things that they’re going to need to do and encounter in their adult life,” said Powell.

Cabot High School won second place in trouble shooting and in the quiz bowl last year, which brought them to third place in the overall competition.

Powell is proud of her team whose members put in lots of time and hard work.

“I loose the ones who think that it’s just about getting out and driving a go kart around. It’s the ones that really understand and see the value of the car, the ones that stay with the program.”

Hybrid cars like Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt are slowly getting more popular.


Powell says one of her concerns about electric cars is the proper disposal of car batteries, which, if thrown in a dump, could have negative consequences on the environment. 

As Cabot High School students gear up for the Rally, senior Aaron Morris says he hopes other people will be inspired to follow their dreams.

“A lot of people have good ideas. It’s just getting them out of their head and into the real world. And being an engineer, that’s one of the great things about it, is that you could have an idea that no one else does and you have the chance to make it come to life,” said Morris.

Jonathan Nigus says he’s proud to be part of the competition and to be an engineering student.

“It is a great career. It’s a lot of fun. It’s one of those jobs where it’s not ‘Oh, I have to go to work!’ it’s ‘Yeay, I get to go to work!’”

Update Monday, April 22, 2013, at 2:39 p.m.:

Cabot High School won first place of the overall winners.