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Real World – MTEC Electrical Technology

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One would not think that a group of high school students at a hardscrabble technical school in the heart of West Virginia coal country would be competing in the countrys premier electric vehicle education program, the EV Challenge.

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Not only are the high school students at the Monongalia County Technical Education Center (MTEC) competing, they are routinely winning a quarter of the awards given out at the national competition, including second and third place overall.

A project of the Carolina Electric Vehicle Commission, The EV (Electric Vehicle) Challenge was organized in 1993 to educate high school students and the general public on innovative alternative fuel and electric vehicle technology with a focus on the environmental benefits. It is a multi-disciplinary approach, involving a wide range of topics including math, science, engineering, language arts and more. The EV Challenge is backed by a wide variety of corporate and government sponsors including Progress Energy, North Carolina State University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Office of the North Carolina Department of Administration.

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The first year, only three North Carolina high schools participated; by 2004-2005, there were 30 high schools and 14 middle schools participating from seven states. MTEC is the only school from West Virginia participating.

Students from all programs and subjects have the opportunity to compete in a variety of events. Everyone is encouraged to participate. For example, the Landscape Management students at MTEC organized a clean-up of the school grounds. The Child Development classes put together scrapbooks and posters and also presented skits at local grade schools.

The year-long preparation for competition focuses on scoring points in the following seven events:

  • Troubleshooting: Two students must diagnose four electrical or mechanical faults in an EV.

  • Web Site Design: Students design and create a web site that effectively describes the schools program and the environmental benefits of electric vehicles.

  • Oral Presentation: The students prepare two presentations that are given in a live oral competition that effectively describe the schools program and the environmental benefits of electric vehicles.

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  • Autocross Driving: Students drive their vehicles through a slalom course in a timed event.

  • Range Driving: The students drive the vehicle as far as it will go on a single charge.

  • Vehicle Design: Industry professionals assess the overall design of the vehicle.

  • School Initiative: Teams are rewarded for participating in a wide variety of events and activities that involve the school and the community in the EV Challenge throughout the year such as parades, trash cleanups and news releases. The year-long EV Challenge activities culminate in a two-day event that brings the competitors together in Raleigh, NC, for competition and fun. For each event, the various schools participation is scored and awards are given to those with the highest scores in each category, with an overall award going to the team with the highest overall score.

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    No Trouble Troubleshooting
    Joseph Toothman, a MTEC team member during the 2005 competition, described his experience in glowing terms. It was fun to get away from school and do something that not everyone gets to do, Toothman said. He and his partner brought home the first place trophy in the troubleshooting event. Though they did not have the fastest time diagnosing the four vehicle faults (2 minutes 27 seconds), they excelled at the written portion of the event, demonstrating their knowledge of EV troubleshooting. (The fastest troubleshooting time was 37 seconds.)

    George Law, who teaches Electrical Technology at MTEC, is the lead advisor for the schools EV Challenge program and has guided the students through five years of electric vehicle competition. Law is very enthusiastic about MTECs participation. This is the best thing Ive been involved in since Ive been teaching because the students become so enthusiastic.

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    Law and MTECs EV Challenge crew have been entering the competition with two vehicles, a 1991 Ford Ranger donated by State Farm Insurance after being damaged in a collision, and a Mazda MX3 with a non-functional engine that was provided to the team by a private donor. Both vehicles use motors, controllers and other electrical components supplied by Electric Vehicles of America, (http://www.ev-america.com) based in Wolfeboro, NH.

    Power Ranger
    The Ford Ranger was the teams first conversion. It competed in the EV Challenge Truck division and was third overall in the nation. After being repaired by MTECs Collision Repair Technology class, the Ranger was given a custom paint job and is currently one of the most attractive vehicles to regularly compete. The Ranger was also equipped with a hydraulic tilt bed, which provides easy access to two of its three battery trays. The third tray is mounted where the radiator (no longer needed) was located and provides weight balance for the vehicle. The electric ranger is powered by 16 6-volt Trojan lead-acid batteries that drive a dual shaft FB1-4001A Advanced DC 96-volt motor. The motor is controlled by a DCP Raptor 600 amp controller.

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    The truck also has a DCP DC-DC 300 watt converter that converts an 80-320 VDC input to 14 VDC output. The DC-DC converter provides the lower voltage to the trucks auxiliary battery and electrical system. The motor is linked to the original manual transmission, which has a clutchless shift. The clutch mechanism is still there, but acts as a mechanical fuse to prevent damage from the motors high torque operation. The battery condition and level of charge is monitored by a voltmeter, an ammeter and a fuel gauge that shows the level of charge. The Rangers original power brakes are now driven by a 12-volt vacuum pump. The truck has an onboard charger by K&W that can charge the battery packs fully in approximately seven hours. The Ford has an effective range of about 45 miles.

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    Modified Mazda
    The Mazda is a newer addition to the EV Challenge team and has competed three times in the Modified class, taking home the second place overall trophy. Custom paint was applied to the car by the MTEC collision repair students, and the bright red sports car with green lettering really stands out in the competition. The MX3s suspension has been lowered 2.5 inches and has been improved with high-performance components to improve the cars handling.

    The Mazda has 13 off-the-shelf NAPA Orbital DeepCycle 12-volt gel-cell batteries driving a 22 horsepower dual shaft FB1-4001A Advanced DC 72-144 volt motor. Like the Ranger, the Mazdas motor is controlled by a DCP Raptor 600 amp controller. The Mazda has a DCP DC-DC 300 watt converter that converts an 80-420 VDC input to 14 VDC output. And, just like the Ranger, the DC-DC converter provides the lower voltage to the cars auxiliary battery and electrical system, but in addition, the DC-DC converter also supplies 14 VDC to a set of primary and secondary economizers. These economizers use the lower voltage to actuate and maintain the contactors that provide power from the controller to the motor, thus saving power. The motor is linked via a custom adapter plate to the original manual transmission, which also has a clutchless shift. Onboard charging is provided by a 2,800 watt Zivan NG3 charger, which fully charges the cars batteries in about seven hours.

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    The batteries are mounted in the cars trunk, as well in the front where the radiator once was, in order to balance the car. The battery compartment in the trunk has a ventilation fan to prevent gas build-up during charging. Other features include a 12-volt vacuum pump to supply the power brakes and dash-mounted voltmeter, ammeter, and fuel gauges that show the current level of charge. The Mazda has a 60 mile range.

    All About the Range
    Like all electric vehicles, acceleration is not a problem. All of the motors torque is available immediately. Law puts the challenge to his students. The cars will scream, he said, but the real issue is range. The students have to figure out how to reduce the vehicles power use. To keep the playing field level, regenerative charging systems and hybrid vehicles are not permitted. The challenge is to get the best efficiency out of the batteries and to be innovative in stretching the range, said Law.

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    Successful participation in the EV Challenge requires the involvement of all MTEC students, said Marlene Lawrence, MTECs principal. Students working to meet deadlines, while staying focused on the end result has been amazing. Our students have learned to work as a team. I am extremely proud of them.

    Undercar Training Assistance For Instructors

    Training Program Developed for the Classroom


    Tenneco Automotives DRIVE program, unveiled recently at Alfred State College, Wellsville, NY, is an interactive training partnership featuring cutting-edge technical materials and Web-based communication that was developed to enhance the preparation of the next generation of undercar technicians.

    Materials available through the DRIVE program include a comprehensive instructors kit containing disassembled ride control product samples, exhaust product cutaways, training posters and instructional videos. Students can enroll individually in the program through in-classroom demonstrations and on-line interaction with the Monroe and Walker engineering marketing teams. Tenneco has long supported technician education through programs such as the Monroe Ride & Drive vehicle testing tour and other initiatives.

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    Instructors note For more information about the Tenneco DRIVE program, write to: Tenneco DRIVE Marketing Program, One International Drive, Monroe, MI 84161.

    Alfred State College Holds Automotive Industry Open House


    Wellsville, NY Under the banner of Progress Through Partnership, Alfred State Colleges Automotive Trades program recently held an Automotive and Heavy Duty Industry Open House at its Wellsville, NY campus. The event brought together students, instructors and industry in a unique two-day event designed to showcase Alfreds educational programs to the industry and expose its students to manufacturers and suppliers through panel discussions and a small booth show.

    WD and local store owner Uni-SelectUSA/MAWDI was one of the chief organizers of the event. For Uni-SelectUSA/MAWDI and its local division, Fred Roberts Auto Parts, partnering with educational programs such as Alfreds pays future dividends for all parties involved.

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    Alfred State College is developing the future of the industry, said Fred Roberts Auto Parts Area Manager Al Mosher, who helped spearhead the event. Quality education and training equal quality customers and quality employees. The partnership of Alfred State College and Uni-SelectUSA/MAWDI is one of the many keys to our future success.

    Its no wonder Uni-SelectUSA/MAWDI chose to partner with Alfred. For more than 30 years, Alfred State College has provided the kinds of hand-on, technologically sound educational programs the industry needs. Alfreds automotive trades department offers associate degree programs in automotive service, heavy equipment, truck and diesel and auto body repair. Each of these programs is ASE Master Certified by NATEF. It also offers an associate degree in motorsports technology at its main campus in Alfred, NY.

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    Additionally, an auto parts program is slated to begin in 2006.

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