Author: Julie Ward
An interview was conducted with Gene Pierce. Pierce is an instructor at Tuscola Technology Center, located at 1401 Cleaver Road, Caro, MI 48723; which is about three and a half hours away from Western Michigan University. According to Tuscola’s website, their mission statement states, “TTC offers 27 programs to 11th and 12th grade students from the local districts within the Tuscola ISD and adult residents of Tuscola County. The Tuscola Technology Center programs deliver career training and excellence and related educational services to all area residents using state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. They believe:
-They are an extension of the local school districts and expand educational services
- Their programs provide a practical application of academic knowledge
-Education is a lifelong process; and all are capable of learning and can
-They promote personal growth and acknowledge individual achievement through
job skill training in a stimulated and actual work environment
-Input from business and industry is essential in the planning and development of
Curriculum and selection of equipment, materials and supplies.
The project that the students constructed was turning a gas engine truck into an electric truck. This was part of their alternative energy project. According to Tuscola’s website on alternative energy, “Students that desire learning about renewable energy technologies will be able to add these six technologies to their educational experience while enrolled at Tuscola Technology Center. Available to students enrolled in the Automotive Technology, Power Technology, Collision Repair, Welding and Fabrication, Drafting and Design Technology, Electronics Technology, Construction Technology and Agri-Science programs. The Tuscola Technology Center and its staff are proud to be an educational leader in Renewable Energy!”
According to how stuff works.com there are many reasons for the continuing interest in electric powered engine automobiles. “Electric cars create less pollution than gasoline-powered cars, so they are an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles (especially in cities). Any news story about hybrid cars usually talks about electric cars as well. Vehicles powered by fuel cells are electric cars, and fuel cells are getting a lot of attention right now in the news.” The most noticeable change from driving an electric car compared to a gasoline-powered car is the fact that is virtually silent!
This particular project included one-hundred students’ specific input. They took a 2002 ford ranger pick up; removed the gas-powered engine and installed an electric-powered motor. The truck now will go seventy miles on a single charge. The electric truck will also go an excessive seventy miles in hour. The truck was successfully transformed from a gas-powered engine to an electric-powered engine in a whopping eight short months! The truck was purchased in September 2012 and the first protocol was done in December. The truck was officially completed in April 2012.
One of the problems that the students endured was that there were thousands of different battery types to choose from. The students had to do their research! The battery that the students finalized and that was needed for this particular truck was weighing down the back end of the truck. Oh no! Lots of engineering and problem solving had to be done. So what the students deliberated with was to level off the truck by redoing the rear suspension. The truck was now level with the correct battery intact. Another problem the students encountered was how to get the luxuries lost from transitioning the truck to an electric-powered engine.
When companies choose to do an electric conversion, (going from a gas-powered engine to an electric-powered engine) the automobile loses the luxuries of: power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, heat and defrosters. The students were faced with the challenge of developing a system that could still do all of those things so the automobile would not lost these fantastic devices. Because of the students, the truck now has an electric-powered engine, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, heat and defrosters. They had to machine everything together themselves and this is an accomplishment in its own. An interesting aspect to this project was that student got the chance to reach out for support from local companies in Michigan to other companies as far as California. This really helped them with their networking skills which helps them become employable.
The Tuscola Technology Center offers students such a great opportunity to obtain valuable work experience. It is programs like this that make CTE such a wonderful program for students who wish to enter the work force. The Blot electric-powered truck not only prepared the students by giving them experience with working in a group, deliberating ideas, trial and error, and focusing on engineering, but supplied the world with an alternative energy saver.