Teams from high schools around Ontario competed in the Waterloo Electric Vehicle (EV) challenge, which was hosted by the University of Waterloo on their east campus on June 6. The competition allows high school students from the Waterloo region to build, and race their own cars.</p>
The EV challenge began four years ago when the Orangeville School Board hosted the first competition. Since then, high schools in the Waterloo region have participated in the annual event. When the event became too big for one school to host, Jamie Cox, a technical designer from Bluevale Collegiate Institute Waterloo, approached the University of Waterloo for assistance and they gladly took over.
This year, Bluevale Collegiate Institute built their ninth car in the 11 years that the team has been active— they had an EV team before the competition was started. “The students work on a one-year cycle, during which they make the decision whether to build a new car or modify and improve previous ones,” said Cox, who also mentioned that even though students gain math and science skills in high school, they are not exposed to hands-on engineering skills. This competition allows them to develop those skills in addition to practicing leadership and teamwork.
Peter Teerstra, event co-ordinator and director of the student design center, said that the University of Waterloo has definitively had an influence on students in the area. Many of the participants had engineering education and career goals prior to the competition, and the EV challenge is a way for them to get closer to their goals by obtaining advice, engineering experience, and knowledge from current Waterloo students and staff. “We were always hoping to attract students who haven’t even thought about becoming engineers,” Teerstra added.
The competition featured a one-hour 12-volt race and a 75-minute 24-volt endurance race. Bluevale Collegiate took first place in both competitions, and was also awarded the Dennis Weisher Engineering Design Award. In addition to the award as the winner of the 24-volt race, Bluevale will be featured in the Toronto Auto Show and will receive the TADA (Trillium Automobile Dealers Association) Cup. The Top Rookie award was given to Pickering High School.
These kinds of learning experiences not only inspire and encourage leadership and hands-on skills, but also demonstrate the importance of co-operation and friendly competition between different schools.
Teerstra concluded that he hopes to eventually see regional competitions, during which teams from different high schools in Ontario, such as Toronto, Kingston, and London, will compete and the winners will race in the final event, hosted in Waterloo.