Alabama students get chance to build, race an electric car

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Houston County Career Technical Center students will get an opportunity to build and race an electric car, thanks to a partnership between the school and Farley Nuclear Plant. The plant funded the purchase of an Electrathon America electric vehicle kit. Students in Shannon...

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Houston County Career Technical Center students will get an opportunity to build and race an electric car, thanks to a partnership between the school and Farley Nuclear Plant.

The plant funded the purchase of an Electrathon America electric vehicle kit. Students in Shannon Jimmerson's pre-engineering class will assemble the vehicle, making design decisions such as whether to use three or four wheels and what type of steering system to use. The students will later have the opportunity to enter the vehicle in an endurance race to see how many laps their vehicle can make.

"It's one of those things students can have a lot of fun with," Jimmerson said. "You get to put them in a car that they built and designed."

Houston County Career Technical Center Principal Glenn Maloy said that the electric car kit was a project-based learning opportunity that provides relevant skills students can use later in the work force. Maloy said the project will also provide cross-curricular opportunities, as students in business courses can develop marketing materials for the car and automotive tech students can help with its maintenance.

"It encompasses what we try to do with project-based learning and the opportunity to use cross-curricular training to build, design and market all in one project," he said.

The car will arrive in about a month. Students will spend several months building it.

Jimmerson, a former chemical engineer, who became a teacher after taking time out to work at home with her children, said she hopes the electric car kit will encourage students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers.

Farley Nuclear Plant donated $4,000 to help the career center purchase the electric car. Farley has donated about $20,000 to local schools in 2016. About half of that was donated to schools within a 10-mile radius of the plant.

Neecie Tarrant, communications coordinator for Plant Farley, said projects like the electric car building program provide students with a foundation in science and teamwork skills. Tarrant said Farley looks for these qualities in employees, making the plant's donation an investment in its future work force.

"STEM education contributes to our community's competitiveness and its future," she said. "We look for efforts we can support."

Jennifer Calano, a student in Jimmerson's class, said she was excited about the opportunity to work on the electric car. Calano has participated in BEST robotics competitions for the school.

"The thing I like best about BEST is game day, when you actually get to make it work," she said.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com

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