Lochaber High School’s young engineers in drive for electric car glory

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Budding young engineers from Lochaber High School are on a drive for electric car glory.

There is no lack of ambition or talent among members of the school’s young engineers club going by their latest project taking shape in the technology department.

Not far from completion, the electric single-seater car is waiting for aluminium body panels to be cut, which the group of S1 to S4 pupils will rivet to the vehicle’s hollow frame.

The kit was bought for the students by Liberty British Aluminium (LBA), which runs the smelter in Fort William and has forged a close relationship with the school.

The company is also keen to help the school transport the finished car to other parts of the country where the pupils will race it against similar school-constructed vehicles.

Anyone who doubts the level of skill needed to construct such a car just needs to look at the myriad of complex wiring and links, intricate welding and metalwork the pupils have had to figure out.

Technology and design teacher Bill Cameron and head of physics Rhona Barr have been involved with the project.

Mr Cameron told the Lochaber Times that prior to the car, projects tackled by the club had mainly featured electronics.

‘But those smaller projects have all been feeding into taking on something of this scale,’ he added.

The school’s young engineers club had been at a standstill for a couple of years but is now bursting with engineering and technological talent.

S2 pupil Lily Bloom puts the car through its paces this week. Picture: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. NO F20 ELECTRIC CAR 03
S2 pupil Lily Bloom puts the car through its paces this week. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.
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The car project is part of the Greenpower Challenge, run by the Greenpower Education Trust, which looks to kickstart careers in engineering for young people in the UK.

Greenpower sells the kit cars with the aim of teams of youngsters designing, building and then racing them at motorsport venues around the country.

‘Liberty bought the kit for us it has been supportive during the whole process,’ said Mr Cameron.

‘We are now just waiting for the body panels. The pupils will make the templates, then Liberty engineers will cut the panels which will be riveted on by the pupils.

‘Building the car has provided various challenges for the pupils to overcome and they have done the bulk of that themselves.’

Ms Barr added: ‘From a staff point of view it’s definitely been a ‘hands off’ approach as much as possible to let the pupils figure things out for themselves.’

Lochaber High School young engineers club members with staff and representatives of Liberty British Aluminium with the electric racing car. Picture: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. NO F20 electric car extra
Lochaber High School young engineers club members with staff and representatives of Liberty British Aluminium with the electric racing car. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.
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Asked what they found the most difficult part of the process so far, most of the pupils were of the same opinion: electrics.

‘It took quite a lot of time to figure out where all the wires went and what they all did,’ said S2 pupil Josef Kocgan-Briggs.

LBA operations manager Tom Uppington was at the high school with his Fort William colleague Rosie Flannigan this week to see the car’s progress.

‘We’re always delighted to support the school and the pupils and this is an excellent way of helping generate interest in engineering as a possible career,’ he said.

‘Anything we can do to support that is always looked at positively. Seeing the car take shape is exciting and we’re looking forward to seeing it racing.’

 

S1 pupil Roddy Steadwood at the wheel of the electric race car, which is waiting for body panels. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.

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