-Northview teams compete at Indianapolis Raceway Park, place in top 10
Two teams of Northview High School students joined 40 other Indiana high schools at the Indiana Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Alliance (IMSTEA) Super Mileage Challenge at Indianapolis Raceway Park on April 25 in an attempt to discover new innovations in fuel efficiency.
"Northview is a relatively small school to participate in this type of event," Faculty Project Advisor James Latta said. "We compete against larger and more well-funded schools, and many times do better."
Eligibility for competition is determined by a technical proposal written by the students covering all aspects of the design and construction of the car. Including considerations such as aerodynamic drag, friction forces, braking forces and cornering forces must be calculated and discussed in detail.
"Everyone on the team has an opportunity to make designs for the cars. But we have to make sure that the design remains within the initial proposal as we make minor changes throughout the project," sophomore Chris Shepard said of fellow design proposal team members Danica Neier, Devin Whittington and Matt Wright. His design for the framework and steering was chosen by team vote for this year's cars. "I'm just impressed that the design stayed together during the race."
Under the supervision of a faculty member, students are entirely responsible for the design and construction of the entry for the event.
"I like to work with my hands," Andy Frye said. The senior worked with Cory Bryan, Dustin Moore, Jeff Smith and Chris Shepard as part of the pit crew the day of the event. Currently working at BRITT Tool, Frye was instrumental in designing and making custom parts for the car. "I really like the technical field, it's why I got involved."
Senior Dustin Moore, who is planning to become a high school technical teacher, speaks for most of the students on the team when he says, "I like just doing a project, seeing it finished, then seeing it really work."
The engines for the cars are furnished by Briggs & Stratton Corp., but all other items required to complete the project must be either purchased or donated by sponsors.
"Some of the cars out on the track cost thousands of dollars for the schools to make," Latta said, explaining that when the program starts at the begining of the school year the technology team looks for sponsorships to cover the expenses of the project. "We designed and built our cars this year by tearing apart last year's car and using a budget of $500."
Entered in both divisions, stock and unlimited, the NHS team did well in this year's competition.
The NHS entry in the stock class division, which allows no modification to the engine, achieved a gas mileage of 304.2 during the three-lap competition to place 10th. The first place team, Evansville Mater Dei High School, achieved a gas mileage of 1,015.6.
In the unlimited class division, which allows engine modifications, the NHS car achieved a gas mileage of 407.3, placing seventh out of the 16 entries to take the track. With a 900.2 gas mileage, the first place team was Winamac High School.
"Its awe-inspiring to step out onto that track, with all its history, and watch the team at work," Latta said about the event held at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. "I would love to trade places with one of the drivers and have the experience of driving that track."
Sophomore Bert Blystone was one of this year's drivers. Blystone and William Osborn drove the No. 53 stock entry, while Stephen Brannan drove the No. 19u unlimited entry.
"I love the challenge of racing, but most of the time I'm trying to just stay out of the way," Blystone said of the busy race track. The course can be filled with up to 40 entries traveling at a top speed of 34 mph during the three laps a car must remain on the track. "It's like driving in a miniature NASCAR race."
The NHS students, who are able to put classroom skills to use, learned about teamwork, commitment and taking pride in a job well done.
"These guys are really tough on themselves," Latta said of the group's work ethic and being very critical of themselves. "But they really do a great job. We have so many ability levels among the students and they all work so well together. They definitely understand the concept of 'There is no I in TEAM.'"