Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Global EEE, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, partnered to organize a showcase of student-made electric vehicles on May 21.

Using kits provided by Global EEE, which stands for Education, Energy and Environment, schools constructed electric vehicles for several months leading up to race day, when they battled to see which car could make the most laps over the course of two 30-minute sessions. They started with the same amount of stored energy in their batteries.

To offset costs of the kits, schools applied for grants for supplemental funding from SVEC and ODEC. Teams were also encouraged to find sponsors to cover expenses.

Global EEE historically has held the grand prix in the D.C. area, including at the Air and Space Museum and National Harbor. One of the principals, retired professor Nabih Bedewi, recently moved to the Winchester area and wanted to bring this experience to students locally. As a new co-op member, he contacted SVEC and the Valley grand prix took shape from there.

The enthusiasm from students was on display during the event, as loud cheers rang out with each lap registered on the scoreboard. The grand prix gives students with diverse skillsets a hands-on chance to put their knowledge and interests to use. There’s wiring, construction, data analysis and a touch of graphic design and marketing, as teams are advised to promote their work within their schools and communities.

Several awards were handed out to teams beyond those that circled the track the most. Technical innovation, sportsmanship and women in science and engineering were among the other categories.

As a group, Harrisonburg High School’s trio of Monica Espinoza, Johanna Mayfield and Emma Swartz were the women in science and engineering recipients. They impressed with their leadership throughout the process, even getting a few words in for a television interview previewing the event.

“These young women have helped to shape the trajectory, culture and organization of our team from the start,” wrote Seth Shantz, HHS technology and engineering teacher, in nominating them for the award. “I feel personally grateful that they chose to commit their time to this competition, and I think it speaks volumes for the opportunity that your organization is providing that the competition immediately drew them in and continues to engage them.”

Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta County took top honors, finishing 60 laps. Teacher Ben Ham was proud of his team’s performance — which dubbed itself the “Pit Crewgars” as a playoff pit crew and the school mascot, Cougars — and even more satisfied with the lessons of hard work and team building it learned throughout the process.

“They made it all worth it today. To see them so excited, even the pit crew, to see them get out on the track, everybody did their job and had fun doing it,” he says. “The small details, everything SVEC and Global EEE did, was amazing. You all went all out.”

—Report by Preston Knight, Communication Manager, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative