Electrathon inspires students to study engineering, automotive trades

Electrathon inspires students to study engineering, automotive trades
In five years, the Electrathon electric vehicle competition has grown from four participants to nearly three dozen. (Alabama NewsCenter)

If Monday’s annual Electrathon was any indication, the future of electric vehicles is charging forward.

Five years ago, the inaugural Electrathon – in which high school students build and race small electric vehicles – drew four participants. This year there were nearly three dozen cars, from high schools in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, competing at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham. About 500 people attended the event.

“It’s amazing how it’s grown,” said Robin White, a market specialist at Alabama Power, who has helped coordinate Electrathon since its beginnings. Others from Alabama Power also volunteer their time to support the event.

The event is a prime opportunity for students interested in engineering, mechanics and automotive careers to learn new skills. But it also tests students’ abilities to work as a team.

Monday’s competition involved two one-hour races, testing not only the speed of the cars, but their endurance over time.

This year’s victors were:

First place, high school class

LeCroy Career Technical Academy, Chilton County Schools, Clanton

Total 27 laps in two one-hour races

Second place, high school class

Middleton High School, Tampa, FL

Total 26 laps in two one-hour races

Third place, high school class
Hewitt-Trussville High School, Trussville

Total 24 laps in two one-hour races

With the automotive manufacturing industry growing in Alabama and across the South, there’s a need to recruit more young people into engineering and automotive-related fields. The Electrathon gives students a taste of what it might like to pursue those career paths, White said. Not to mention that it’s also a lot of fun for the students to be a part of the event.

It also helps to educate students about the potential of electric vehicles as a growing segment in the automotive industry, White added. “We are bringing these jobs into our state. We want to fill these jobs with Alabamians, if we can. This program helps prepare our youth to step into these jobs after graduation.

“I think the fact that the Electrathon is bigger every year shows that it’s worthwhile, for the students and everyone involved,” White said.

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