“Every year, NY Electrathon offers an opportunity for high school teachers to pull together their students for a competition,” said Marty Miner, event coordinator, technology teacher at C-NS and advisor for the school’s Performance Engineering Team. The event at Carrier was viewed as practice for the statewide competition at Watkins Glen on April 21.
“The fall event is an invitational,” Miner said. “It’s an opportunity for the teams to get acclimated to the event and to test out their cars. They’ll spend the next few months getting ready for the spring race and having sanctioned marathons.”
In an Electrathon event, the winner is determined by how far the vehicle goes on a given amount of fuel. Specific design rules are set to ensure fair competition. The vehicles designed by the teams are driven by students around a designated race course — in Saturday’s case, a portion of the parking lot at Carrier. Drivers, who must have their licenses, have to wear helmets and gloves, and cars are rigorously tested for safety.
Between races, students continuously go back to the drawing board to work out the kinks on their vehicles. Miner said no matter what the group, the students in his group get a lot out of the experience.
“The kids get excited about the competition, for sure,” he said. ““They feel the pressure of the work put on them to get a car ready ... A lot of engineering students at this level haven’t built a thing in their lives. This activity gives them real-word experience.”
Miner also said a lot of credit goes to the faculty advisers who guide the student engineering teams through the process.
“The work that the teachers are doing, mostly on a volunteer basis, to provide the opportunity for the kids, is incredible,” he said. “They’re putting in a lot of extra time and effort to see that these kids get to this point. The kids see that.”
Sarah Hall is editor of the Eagle Star-Review. She can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 310 or firstname.lastname@example.org.