For the second year running, a team of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology students from Red River College have taken their battery-electric vehicle — dubeed SpaRRCky — to Sonoma, California for the Shell Eco-marathon.
The team beat their personal best, moving from a 14th-place finish last year to seventh overall in the battery electric category. And while this year’s race was ultimately a success, it wasn’t without its challenges.
“Going into our first run was the most nerve-racking part of the competition,” says team captain Joel Turner, an Electrical Engineering Technology student at RRC. “Our first set of available runs had been postponed due to rain, which furthered our nervousness, but as soon as we got off the line it was high fives and smiles all around!”
Nerves aside, the team also had to deal with various technical challenges. During the first run, SpaRRCky’s cover came loose and the team’s driver (Samantha Sousa, a Welding student who also constructed the racer’s steering knuckle) had to pull over for her own safety and the safety of the others on the track.
“Once we got the car back, we quickly brainstormed and fixed the problem on the fly, got SpaRRCky back in line, and were able to make the next run,” says Turner.
“The rain was pushing our time slot back and the pavement was slick. I also had not driven SpaRRCky on pavement yet, only in the gym as we still had snow in Winnipeg,” she says.
But the stress didn’t stop there. “After our third run, a housing bolt had become stripped and we could not attempt another run with the vehicle in this condition,” says Turner.
Thanks to the team’s quick thinking and a visit to a local hardware store, they were able to make the fix and move on to the next run and a seventh-place finish. Read More →