kehoe grand prix

Five student-built vehicles begin the Kehoe Grand Prix, a one-hour endurance race for students enrolled in the College-NOW program at the Kehoe Center in Shelby. The event was Thursday.

SHELBY -- Five teams of students enrolled in the College-NOW engineering academy put their capstone projects on the road Thursday at the Kehoe Center in Shelby – literally – competing in the Kehoe Grand Prix.

Each team has been building an electric vehicle throughout the year. They began by researching and designing the types of vehicles they might want to build, including frame, steering, braking, gearing, power and drive options – and the optimal combination to provide the best overall performance and energy efficiency.

The Kehoe Grand Prix was designed as an endurance race with a one-hour time limit. Each team’s vehicle, driven by team members, navigated a five-turn circuit laid out in the parking lot at the Kehoe Center.

The team completing the most laps in 60 minutes was the Mario Cart team of Caleb Butler, Noah Blum, Spencer Welch and Mayalana Wilson. They completed 63 laps in their vehicle.

“It’s been a great experience,” Welch says. “Even if you don’t go into engineering, which a lot of us are doing, this program has prepared us for this task. It’s 100 percent worth it.”

Four of the five vehicles finished the entire hour of racing. The fifth was sidelined early with a mechanical failure.

Dr. Dorey Diab, president of North Central State College attended the event.

“This is a terrific example of what we do here at NC State," Diab said. "These students, who are all still in high school, combined their study of numerous engineering concepts to build vehicles powered by batteries that just ran for more than an hour.

"This is a great moment for them as they complete their education in College-NOW. I look forward to handing them their college diploma next month from NC State, even before they graduate with their high school diploma.”

The College-NOW Engineering Academy is a partnership between the Pioneer Career and Technology Center and North Central State College.

Students enroll full-time to the college, completing both their junior and senior years of high school earning both high school and college credit. At the end of their senior year, students receive an associate degree in applied engineering technology. They also receive their high school diploma from their host school.

Many College-NOW graduates have continued their studies toward bachelor’s and advanced degrees in engineering. Some have entered the workforce, as leaders in manufacturing companies throughout the region.

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