Students who will attend ConVal High School in the fall of 2021 will find a brand-new learning opportunity at the Region 14 Applied Technology Center (ATC): the building of a street-legal electrical car that is based on a kit provided by the California-based company SwitchLab.
ATC Director Jen Kiley pursued this grant-based project with a funding request in January of this year. She envisioned the different strands of career and technical education (CTE) at ConVal contributing to an assignment with a shared focus, one that would allow students to gain knowledge and skills by engaging with an authentic challenge and working together for an extended period of time.
While students in the automotive program would address the mechanical aspects of building the car from the kit, students enrolled in robotics, computer programming, and networking classes could work to adapt the car’s electronics. In addition, graphic communication students could learn how to design skins for the car, similar to the car wraps made from vinyl films. For business students, there could even be a connection to local businesses if they wanted to advertise on the student-designed car wraps, Kiley explained.
Besides its wide-ranging applicability to different CTE curricular areas, a key benefit of the program is that the kit is reusable, Kiley noted. The car can be put together, taken apart, and reconfigured by different students the next year. The SwitchLab e-car kit is expected to last for at least ten years, which allows several generations of ATC students to acquire sought-after skills in the rapidly expanding area of electric vehicle design and maintenance.
According to its website, the SwitchLab is an all-inclusive, turn-key program with different vehicle options. The kit includes the chassis, AC, DC, or permanent magnet drive system, battery, all required wiring, lights, seats, seat belts, and windscreen. The kit is expected to arrive before the end of the school year, Kiley said, in order to give instructors an opportunity to get familiar with its components before students will work on it in the fall.
To explore a YouTube playlist of SwitchLab videos where you can see the finished cars in action, please click here. To read Jack Rooney’s related Keene Sentinel article on the electric car project at ConVal, please click here.