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Willamette Electrathon Blast gives students hands-on technical training

20 drivers from three different schools jumped in their self-made cars and burned some rubber at Lane Community College on Saturday afternoon. (SBG).

EUGENE, Ore. - Some high schools in Lane County are putting what they learn in class to the test on the race track, all part of the need to teach students science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

20 drivers from three different schools jumped in their self-made cars and burned some rubber at Lane Community College on Saturday afternoon.

Cars were screeching around corners and putting the pedal to the metal down the straightaways, but it wasn't Formula One drivers who were operating the vehicles, it was high school students, all participating in the Willamette Electrathon Blast.

"They start will a 20-foot chuck of steel. They bend, cut, grind, weld and make it into cars," said Mike Hodgert, a teacher at Willamette High School.

The vehicles can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour, and they don't require fuel. The students had two and a half months to build and strategize how to keep their cars moving the longest distance for an hour.

"The rule is, you have to go as far as you can on 24 pounds of battery," said Hodgert. "You can't push up the hills, there's no bumping."

Jase Brooks has been part of Willamette's metals classes since his Sophomore year, and he says the program will help when he gets the opportunity to join the U.S. Navy for submarine duty.

"It's all applied stuff; welding, bending tubes, fixing pipes," said Brooks. "It's all about the same."

Meeting the program's expectations to provide career technical education for students with real world hands-on learning.

Along with students from Willamette, Thurston and Cottage Grove competed in Saturday's race as well.

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