Technology studies students assist with electric car races

Several Fort Hays State University students from the Technology Studies Department traveled to the Kansas City Speedway, Kansas City, Kan., to administer the KAN-AM Electric Car Races recently, as part of a service learning class and project.

The technology studies students, along with students from area high schools, hit the tracks again for the 2008 High Plains Rally for experimental electric vehicles on Oct. 16.

In electric racing, the challenge is time and distance. The car that completes the most laps in a one-hour time frame is the winner. Cars come in two classes: standard, powered by batteries, and experimental, powered at least partially by solar.

The KAN-AM Electric Challenge featured electric car race teams from 22 school districts in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa and teams representing community colleges, technical colleges and private hobbyists.

The KAN-AM Electric Challenge is nationally sanctioned by Electrathon America. Race sponsors were U.S. Premium Beef, Kansas ElectroRally and Wheatland Electric. The KAN-AM Challenge is the brainchild of Kansas ElectroRally and its executive committee, whose goal is to give electric car teams the thrill of racing on a real NASCAR track.

Kansas ElectroRally -- a partnership between FHSU, Midwest Energy Inc., Sunflower Electric Power Corporation and Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc. -- is also the prime mover of the High Plains Rally in Hays.

Technology studies students were involved in every facet of the High Plains Rally activities and worked closely with all the teams and community volunteers.

About 100 high school students in 15 teams from Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska met at a makeshift race track in West Frontier Park in Hays to race full-sized electric cars -- cars designed, built and raced by the students.

Students who assisted at the Kansas City Speedway are listed by hometown and classification:

GARDEN CITY: Drew McNutt, junior.
GREEN: Danny Grater, senior.
HAYS: Patrick Zapata, freshman.
LAKEWOOD, Colo.: Nicholas Ophaug, freshman.
MT. HOPE: Brody Baxter, junior.
OLMITZ: Jacob Schneider, sophomore.
PRATT: Jonathan Ruda, freshman.

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