Written by YES! Coordinator Katelyn Bocklund
On Thursday, December 15, 2016, 21 students and their coaches from Hutchinson and Glencoe-Silver Lake (GSL) YES! teams came together to learn about renewable and efficient automotive design practices at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School.
Jim Wallace, Joe Wambeke, and Theron Busse from the Ridgewater College Auto Body Collision Technology Program began the morning by talking to the students about industry standards. Ever since the government mandate passed requiring the auto industry to achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon in their fleet by 2025, automobile manufacturers have been putting out more electric cars and experimenting with different structural materials to make vehicles more energy efficient. For example, the industry is moving away from welding and toward riveting and gluing. Additionally, the 6000 series of aluminum, a military grade aluminum, is lighter and stronger than previous series, but it also requires aluminum rivets to prevent corrosion. The speakers also indicated that paint can affect the weight of the car.
Following the presentation, the group headed down to one of the shop areas to witness a glass engine that the Ridgewater College presenters brought. Busse demonstrated how different fuel sources impacted the engine among other things.
All of the topics that Wallace, Wambeke, and Busse covered from the automotive industry will be applicable to both Hutchinson and GSL as the students design their own vehicles for the 29th Annual MTEEA Supermileage Challenge in Brainerd this year.
Next, students heard from Alexander Vanden Bussche and Akshay Patil from the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project (SVP). Alex manages the dynamic group while Akshay does operations for the team and worked on the array team on its last car, Eos. Similar to the YES! Program, Bussche and Patil indicated that SVP provides hands-on engineering experience and education—something that is not as easily attained in the classroom. Bussche and Patil talked about some of the world races SVP has competed in along with describing the experience of working on a solar car team. They also talked about some major sponsors of the program—a huge asset when designing a car worth over 1 million dollars! When asked what two biggest pieces of advice they could give to the students, their answer was “design, finalize, and then build the car” and “constant constructive communication.”
After the presenters were finished, the teams had some time to discuss project goals and look at past GSL supermileage vehicles, which ended up being a huge help to the Hutchinson students who haven’t competed in supermileage before. One student commented that “the rivalry between Hutch and Glencoe isn’t present in this program because [Glencoe] wants to help us,” which is exactly what YES! is all about.
The YES! Program is excited to see what vehicles both teams develop this year for supermileage!