A recent race not quite like any other was a success for three Forsyth County schools.
Teams from Forsyth Central High School, South Forsyth High School and West Forsyth High School, which sent two teams, recently claimed the top three spots at the fourth annual Forsyth County Electrathon Rally, a race for student-built electric cars held in a parking lot of the Cumming Fairgrounds.
“It’s an endurance race and the kids design and build their electric cars,” South Forsyth Coach Jeff Olney said. “A full electrathon race is a two-hour race, but you race in the morning for one hour, you total your total laps and then you take a couple hours off for you to put new batteries or change your batteries then come back and run a second hour.
“A full electrathon race is a two-hour race, but you race in the morning for one hour, you total your total laps and then you take a couple hours off for you to put new batteries or change your batteries then come back and run a second hour."South Forsyth Coach Jeff Olney
“It’s the total number of laps combined in the two races to determine who is the winner.”
South claimed first in the competition, with Central coming in second and West in third. Other schools participating were Sims Academy, North Cobb High School, Chamblee High School, Northview High School and Rabun County High School.
Marlo Miranda, the coach for Central, said the result would not be possible without help from Siemens, who sponsored the event and programs in local high schools.
“They literally give us a grant every year so we can keep the cars going, build new cars,” Miranda said. “They’re very, very serious about their support for the program.”
West Forsyth Coach Anthony Tarantino said the partnership mean the school’s team was able to get a new car most years, which was a big benefit to students.
“The big benefit is it is a new set of problems,” he said. “If they have the same car as last year, the new group inheriting it, all the work is done — they don’t have to do anything versus if you give the background of the information to the kids actually have to research, they have to design, they have to come up with the marketing campaign to raise additional money, they’ve got to find where to buy things from.”
Miranda said Central’s team was made of engineering and automotive students and allows them to get hands-on knowledge and to find out-of-the-box solutions to problems.
“Engineering students get a chance to apply what they’re learning in theory, and the automotive students also get a chance to apply a lot of the skills they are learning,” he said. “A student has to figure out tire pressure, alignment angles, how to set the vehicle up gear ratio-wise, depending on the track. There’s a lot of benefit to being in the program.”
Olney said South’s team had learned a lot about managing the car’s battery.
“We’ve found the past couple of years if you run too fast, you get a lot of laps in, but 40 minutes out your car just kind of dies,” he said. “We found by watching their amp hours you can go slower, but by keeping your amps where you need based off an amp meter, you can run the same speed for 60 minutes.”