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UVic engineering students gear up for electric car competition

Engineering students at the University of Victoria are developing their first, fully electric racecar that's bound for competition in Michigan this summer.

“It’s almost an identity at this point,” says UVic Formula Motorsport team member Yaël Oosthuizen.

“I spend almost all my free time outside of school as a full-time engineering student building a racecar.”

The club’s chief engineer says the team’s goal this year is to develop a solid design. The group has already spent hours welding together the chassis and is now developing their battery management system for the international competition in June.

“In previous years, it’s kind of filled up slowly. This year it was almost instant just to register for the competition,” says Oosthuizen.

The team thinks that’s reflective of the way the industry is going as the world pushes to put cleaner cars on the road.

“Students of the current generation are very interested in succeeding and contributing to solutions in this space,” says UVic mechanical engineering professor Curran Crawford.

Oosthuizen is among them. The third-year student says he wants to build a career in the electric automotive sector to make a positive impact on the environment.

“Learning how to build an electric car in school really gives you and edge when you’re competing for jobs in industry,” he says.

Crawford says the volunteer club is a natural progression for students to apply the theory they’re learning in the classroom.

“The students on the team here are getting experience designing a battery pack,” says Crawford.

“It’s not just gluing some batteries together. It’s how do you keep them cool and warm enough? How do you do that safely? There’s high voltages, high currents. So if the car crashed, what are the safety systems? Those kinds of things.”

The electric team expects it’ll end up taking a total of 10 months to build the racecar.

It’s being designed to hit a top speed of 200 km/h, and the competition is judged on a mix of design work and racing skill. Top Stories

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