Columbus, Neb. – Student designed. Student built. Student driven.
Those are just some of the hallmarks for teams set to compete in the 18th annual Power Drive competitions for high school teams from Nebraska and neighboring states, as a five-meet series of competitions begin this Saturday.
The initial Power Drive competition of the spring begins Saturday, March 28, with the Cuming County Open scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Cuming County Fairgrounds in West Point, Neb. Similar competitions will be held in Lincoln, Grand Island, Hastings, and LaVista this spring.
In Power Drive, teams compete in a series of endurance rallies, using light electric vehicles. The annual competition is co-sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District. The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held Saturday, May 2.
Power Drive gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year. After building their vehicles, student drivers test their creations against other teams in several categories: braking ability, endurance, maneuverability and overall design/construction. Instructors report the program boosts academics, school spirit and community interest and support.
Many schools seek local business sponsorships and affix logos to their vehicles with the businesses names, much like NASCAR.
Through Power Drive, students are challenged to do the following:
- Apply classroom lessons to produce a one-person light electric vehicle (LEV);
- Work as a team with other students to build the vehicle from the ground up;
- Design and engineer the LEV to roll safely and efficiently;
- Use problem solving skills; promote efforts in the community to gain support;
- Compete against other schools to see whose vehicle performs best;
- and, document their efforts.
Bancroft-Rosalie is the defending champion in the Standard Class from last year with Columbus Lakeview the overall competition’s winner in the Advanced Class in 2014.
A combination of points earned in competitive endurance, design engineering, and documentation supplied by each competing school determines the winners at the finals. Points are awarded in each category of Standard, Advanced and Exhibition, and combined to tally a final score.
Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) began offering the Power Drive program to high schools in its service territory in 1998. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) became a partner in 1999 and began encouraging schools in the central and western parts of the state to participate. Programs similar to Power Drive are currently operating in 28 states.
Schools that have registered, thus far, to compete in this year’s series of competitions include: Adams Central, Bancroft-Rosalie, Beatrice, Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Chase County, Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Iowa), Cedar Rapids Prairie (Iowa), Central City, Clearwater-Orchard, Douglas County West, Dorchester, Deshler, Dundy County, Elkhorn, Friend, Harvard, Howells-Dodge, Iowa School for the Deaf, Columbus Lakeview, Millard West, NCK Technical College (Kansas), Northwestern Area School District (Mellette, S.D.), Pleasanton, Pocahontas Area (Pomeroy-Palmer, Iowa), Raymond Central, Seward, Stanton, Syracuse, Wahoo, Wayne, West Point-Beemer, and Winside.
The complete 2015 Power Drive Schedule is as follows:
- Saturday, March 28 – Cuming County Open, Cuming County Fairgrounds, West Point, Neb. Check-in and inspections begin at 8 a.m. with the endurance competition starting at 10 a.m.
- Saturday, April 11 – Big Red Invitational, East Campus, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Check-in and inspections start at 9:30 a.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
- Saturday, April 18 – Drive Safe Challenge, Law Enforcement Training Center, Grand Island. Competition starts at 11:30 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, April 25 – Hastings Power Drive, Motorsports Park-Hastings, Hastings. Competition begins at 10 a.m. and awards at 1 p.m.
- Saturday, May 3 – Power Drive Championships, Werner Park, LaVista. Three heats of competition begin at 10 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.
To keep updated on activities, “like” the Power Drive Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PowerDriveProgram.