PNW Pioneer

Engineers race to fourth in competition

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers helped electrical engineer students seeking hands-on experience by bringing PNW back to the EV Grand Prix, placing fourth after a five-year absence. 

The last time PNW participated in the EV Grand Prix was in 2013. Only recently, with the establishment of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fall 2017, had PNW made a scene at the competition once more on May 15 and 16.   

Neftali Arteaga, president of IEEE and senior Electrical Engineering major, drives the vehicle in the EV Grand Prix competition.

Neftali Arteaga, president of IEEE and senior Electrical Engineering major, said the organization’s inactive period was due to senior members graduating and lack of younger members to continue it. When Arteaga started at PNW, he decided to pick up where they left off.

“I felt there wasn’t a project for Electrical Engineers to dig their heads into my freshman year, that’s when I heard about the race. I even talked about designs for a cart with like-minded peers, but we didn’t compete that year,” Arteaga said, “I’m still upset we didn’t compete.”

Engineering students from PNW contacted the community for grants and sponsorship from local businesses to be able to compete in 2018.

“Big thanks go out to those who lent a hand, and especially to the Department of Engineering who believed in us despite the timeframe we worked against,” Arteaga said.

Andrew Miloshoff, vice president and junior electrical engineering major, said the organization used existing equipment to build the vehicle. Changes had to be made to it, including the removal of headrests and sprocket changes.

The process of building the vehicle is based on the construction of the chassis, Miloshoff said. Then the organization focused on where to place the battery pack, affixing a motor controller to the rear and an ignition circuit. Brakes, an emergency switch and crushable bumper also had to be included before the vehicle could be rigorously tested.

“That being said, with this new season we hope to update much of the equipment that we have to produce a far more competitive vehicle. Our vehicles have a lot of extraneous modifications made to their frames so we are currently looking into the viability of starting from a clean, modern chassis.” Miloshoff said.

The EV Grand Prix was split into two days in Indianapolis; the first day being dedicated to cart inspection and the second to presentation and racing. Arteaga said the team realized that their vehicle was too slow compared to the top speed on their first day. 

Participants in the EV Grand Prix are allowed a 30 percent margin difference between their time and the fastest; otherwise, they are classified as too slow to race. Members of the chapter alternated their gear sprocket for a more efficient one, a risk, but that wound up being what they needed to scrape by qualifiers.

“When presentations came around, we were the first to step up; mostly we wanted to get it out of the way,” Arteaga said.

PNW students placed first in design, with their custom-built battery pack allotting them full control over their cart’s power, energy, weight, and integration. This also secured them second place in efficiency, 5th in community outreach, and 13th in racing. The IEEE team went on to earn fourth place out of 21 teams.

“I was proud of the results,” Arteaga said. “We had no experience going into this; none of us had competed up to this point. It was a good bonding experience for members that taught us budget managing and what it took to back a project.”

The chapter intends to make the competition an annual tradition. Miloshoff said mounting interest and growing members have shifted the chapter’s focus towards new projects.

“This year we want to maximize groups in competitions by participating in the autonomous cart race also hosted by the EV Grand Prix, IEEXtreme programming competition, and projects involving Drone technology, solar boats and remote control underwater vehicles,” Miloshoff said.

Both Arteaga and Miloshoff said all majors are welcome to join the PNW IEEE chapter.  

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers finished in fourth place at the EV Grand Prix in Indianapolis in May.

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