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Electric car day educates high-schoolers about greener forms of transportation

June 17, 2019 - By Kim Delker

photo of Tesla cars at UNM

The University of New Mexico School of Engineering is organizing an electric car day on June 19 as part of the Energy Summer Academy.

The Energy Summer Academy is a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored four-week program, going on through June 28, designed to introduce students to a variety of energy-related research topics. It is open to students in ninth, 10th and 11th grades and includes a variety of learning experiences, such as college prep courses, guest speakers, field trips and hands-on workshops. Students earn a stipend upon successful completion.

Stefi Weisburd, outreach and education manager for the School of Engineering, said that they are expecting about 12 Teslas from the UNM and local community to be displayed outside the Centennial Engineering Center to give the 35 high school students rides. Students also will be given math problems related to electric vehicles.

Students will convene at 1 p.m., with half of the participants taking a tour of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) electric vehicle project in the Mechanical Engineering Building and half staying in Centennial Engineering Center Room 1028 for a presentation, then the groups will switch.

At 2 p.m., journalist Jeffrey Hoffman, who covered the electric vehicle industry and was involved in an EV startup in California, will give a brief talk about electric cars, then students will go for a ride in the electric vehicles.

Energy Summer Academy is being funded the week of June 17 by the Consortium for Integrating Energy Systems in Engineering and Science Education (ClESESE), a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored project with the goal of increasing the pipeline of graduates ready to pursue a career in energy-relevant fields.

Other activities planned that week include various presentations on climate change; energy options; fuel cells; and tours of Sandia National Laboratories National Solar Thermal Facility, PV testing lab, and energy storage facility; and a tour of SolAero Technologies, located in the Sandia Research Park.

The Energy Summer Academy high school program is one of the components of CIESESE. The other components include:

  • An undergraduate/graduate research program for students from partner universities to conduct energy systems-related research with UNM faculty, at Sandia Labs or the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

  • The Energy and Sustainability Workshop for teachers, where 15-20 teachers come to UNM for one week every summer to learn about energy systems and take ideas and hands-on activities back to the classroom. This year’s program will be held July 8-12 in the Centennial Engineering Center.

  • The Energy Day event for middle school and high school students held the last Saturday in April. Students visit UNM for a daylong program to work on energy-related, hands-on activities.