Electric go-karts get the green light

2:00 pm

It was crunch time for the Wayne County 4-H motorsports team. They’d gotten a late start building their electric go-kart for the May 2018 evGrand Prix.

So, the 4-H team took a few shortcuts: “We kind of skipped some of the safety steps,” admits Jack Albright, a senior at Seton Catholic High School in Richmond. During the first test, team members held their breaths for the flashing green light that would indicate their vehicle was running correctly. “We saw the green light, and that was the turning point where we thought we might get it done,” Albright says.

Then sparks flew and the motor blew off.

The 4-H team learned, regrouped and rebuilt in time to take second place in the competition, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indianapolis 500 festivities.

evKarting is a K-12 STEM program (science, technology, engineering, math) with a motorsports platform. It grew out of the MSTEM3 collegiate electric karting program founded at Purdue to engage university students in STEM disciplines.

4-H Educators Jonathan Ferris and Alicia Criswell and adult volunteer Nathan Criswell coached the team. Albright, who had focused on technical projects in 4-H, was one of eight 4-H members who split into three groups to meet the requirements of building, marketing and presenting their project. He credits their unexpected success to collaboration across these groups.

“More than the physical aspects of how it mechanically worked, the point was to get everybody to work as one function,” he says. “This was my most memorable experience out of the whole 4-H program.”

Wayne County 4-H’s overall event placement in the 2018 evGrand Prix.