Manufacturing Quenches the Need for Speed by Competing in Electrathon

Speed is addictive. And that is the craving William Carangelo and his Manufacturing class will be trying to quench.

On May 30, Carangelo, foreman Matt Hanky and Derek Jonikas, and their classmates competed in the Electrathon, a national high school competition for electric cars. In the competition, the students race their electric cars, and the car that does the most laps in an hour wins the race.

William Carangelo, advisor of the Electrathon project and a member of the Electrathon Board of Directors, explains: “There are over 40 schools in the northeast, including Canada, who show up to this event. It’s very, very competitive. They typically run three heats, each being up to three cars. [Woodland is] bringing three cars this year for the first time.”

There are three classes: composite material, classic, and novice. Those in the novice competition are only eligible to register in that class for their first race.

Woodland first competed in the Electrathon in the Novice category and placed first with 47 laps. In last year’s Electrathon, Woodland competed in the Classic division and placed eighth out of around 20 competitors.

“This year, we’re shooting at least 55 to 60 laps,” Carangelo said. “We’re hoping to set a record.”

This is the first year that Woodland is registering multiple cars to race. They are competing with three cars, the maximum allowed by the Electrathon. All of Woodland’s cars have different weight distributions and battery configurations in order to make the car faster. The lighter the car is, the faster it will go because the battery will not use as much energy to move it and it will accelerate faster. The car will handle better if its weight is distributed evenly. Larger batteries mean more power in the car and more torque going to the wheels, which makes the car faster.

“They’re all different,” Carangelo explains. “We changed weight distribution, [the] ball weight in the car, the gear ratios, the overall configuration of suspension…We changed weight distribution and [the] overall… battery configuration….It’s the lightest by far the weight distribution is fully different drivers more in the center, now the wheels are from wheels pull back a little bit.”

The Electrathon competition is part of Carangelo’s Manufacturing class. It is one of their cumulative projects, alongside designing a “human-powered pump water filtration system” that is presented at an Expo on June 1. 

This year’s Electrathon took place on May 30, 2019. The cars performed well, but the team had a few mishaps along the way.

“We had some mechanical failures,” said Carangelo. “We threw the chain 45 minutes in with fifteen minutes left to go on two cars; our new car, car 60, and car 77. We were able to get the cars back on the track to finish the race, but we lost too much time fixing the chains.”

Cars 60 and 77 both did 37 laps around the track. According to Carangelo, those two cars had the capability of placing in the top three, but the mechanical failures prevented them from doing so. On the third car, car 124, the rear wheel blew out, so the vehicle was out of the competition within the first twenty minutes.

Despite the mishaps of this race, the team is looking forward to competing in the fall- and this time, they’ll return ready to win.